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  • 780,000 chemical weapons being destroyed in Colo.
    PUEBLO, Colo. — Workers have begun destroying a massive stockpile of American chemical weapons stored at a former Army munitions depot near Colorado's ninth-largest city, blasting the artillery rounds open with explosives and neutralizing them with solvents. Workers perform their slow, painstaking task under heavy security and strict safety precautions, which include constant monitoring for leaks, armed guards on random patrols and video monitoring by independent observers. About 780,000 shells and mortar rounds filled with mustard agent are stored at the military-run Pueblo Chemical Depot, and all of them must be destroyed under a 1997 international law. "You can't be too safe about what we're doing here," said Thomas Schultz, a spokesman for the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant. "As long as things are dull, we're all happy." Chemical weapons were once stored across the USA, including in Oregon and Utah, but the United States has been destroying the stockpile for years. Most were incinerated, but community concerns in Pueblo, about 115 miles south of Denver, and at the Blue Grass Army Depot near Richmond, Ky., delayed destruction until the military could develop new techniques to reduce the risk of mercury contamination from the smoke. USA TODAY U.S. to destroy largest remaining chemical weapons cache The meticulous disposal process is a stark departure from how the military used to get rid of chemical weapons: either by burying them or dumping them into the ocean. In 2004 and 2005, some chemical munitions were accidentally dredged up off the New Jersey coast and ended up buried in residential driveways. The Army apparently dumped the munitions in relatively shallow water, said Lenny Siegel, the executive director of the California-based nonprofit Center for Public Environmental Oversight.
  • Dollar Tree Must Pay $3 Million For Improper Hazmat Disposal
    The Dollar Tree discount chain, which operates more than 30 stores in San Diego County, will pay nearly $3 million to settle an environmental protection lawsuit filed by 45 California district attorneys and two city attorneys, including San Diego’s, it was announced today. The settlement was the result of an investigation into Dollar Tree Stores’ unlawful disposal of hazardous waste products into trash bins at each of its stores and distribution centers, more than 480 facilities in California. The waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other e-waste, as well as other hazardous waste generated by circumstances including spills and damage. Hazardous materials were being illegally handled and, rather than being transported to authorized hazardous waste facilities, hazardous wastes were illegally transported to local landfills that are not permitted to accept such waste. Dollar Tree Stores, which cooperated throughout the investigation, admitted no guilt in settling the complaint and agreeing to pay $2.72 million in civil penalties and costs. As part of the settlement, Virginia-based Dollar Tree was ordered to continue implementing a company-wide hazardous waste compliance program. “This is yet another victory for San Diego’s landfills, which were never meant to handle toxic and hazardous wastes,” said San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “The systematic illegal disposal of hazardous waste is a real threat to our water supply, our health, and the health of future generations.”
  • Chemical spill victim talks about explosion
    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - We’re learning more about a chemical explosion last week that sent four people to the hospital, including three firefighters. The man who accidentally caused the explosion was 85-year-old Baldassaro Amico. He was mixing cleaning chemicals in his West Palm Beach condo, when they suddenly exploded. "I'm a lucky guy because [I] could have died," said Amico. He was released from West Palm hospital on Monday. "I'm a survivor," he added. The explosion happened in the kitchen. Firefighters rushed to the scene but three of them were overcome by fumes and were taken to Good Samaritan hospital. That's when the bomb squad showed up to investigate. "I did something stupid," said Amico. And that he regrets. He mixed household cleaners to kill weeds that he says were taking over his lawn. "I had chlorine and wanted to put it in a container with Fantastic, as soon as I put it in there it exploded," he said. "Holy shepherds I didn't know what happened!" Looking back now he understands what went wrong and says when it comes to sprucing his lawn, he learned a hard lesson. "Have someone else do it,  ask my landscaper to do it," he said
  • Bear repellent causes hazmat, evacuation in Pioneer Square
    SEATTLE — Bear repellent caused a hazmat response and the evacuation of a building in Pioneer Square Friday morning. The incident occurred at a building at 77 Washington Square. The building was evacuated after the spray was released in a bag in the basement of the building. The building contains 102 units of transitional and permanent housing. Three people were evaluated evaluated for mild irritation of their eyes and lungs, but no one needed treatment. Alaskan Way South is closed from Yesler Way to South Main Street. Drivers should use alternate routes and expect long delays.
  • Uncovered beaker of mercury discovered in high school science lab
    GOSHEN – No one was in any danger when an uncovered beaker of elementary mercury was discovered in a Goshen High School chemistry lab prep area on Friday, school officials said. The dangerous material was found underneath a prep sink and measured less than five milliliters in volume. District officials immediately contacted the Orange County Health Department and BOCES Risk Management, which then contacted hazmat and the Goshen Fire Department. High School Principal Kurtis Kotes said hazmat and BOCES Risk Management advised that a building evacuation was unnecessary. Air quality tests were conducted and Kotes said at no time were students or staff unsafe.  
  • The Scientist Magazine®
    After scientists shared memorable accidents, mistakes, and errors from their laboratory experiences on Reddit last week, The Scientist asked readers to share a #labblooper or two. Here are some reader responses from Twitter and Facebook: Agar disasters Tina Loane Peterson: “Automated agar plate dispenser mishap. The gasket was not correctly aligned in the reassembled machine. I set up to make a batch of plates and went to lunch. Returned to a room looking like Slimer attacked it. I had to clean agar off of the ceiling!” Charli Evans: “As an undergrad I once lifted a Petri dish in excitement, the lid fell off, and the agar fell onto my face . . . complete with unidentified bacterial snot.” Flames and fumes William Chan: “Nothing worse than setting your bench on fire when ensuring the ethanol is sterile during RNA extraction.” Shyanne Page: “Lit an ETOH covered bead on fire to sterilize it and accidentally dropped it on a Kim wipe. Instant fire!” Alexander Weixelbaumer: “An ex-colleague didn't secure the valve on his HCl gas bottle correctly. Over night the whole lab was gently flooded with the extremely corrosive gas. The ventilation wasn't strong enough and all electronic equipment was damaged beyond repair.” Simon Wheeler: “Once inhaled way too much acetyl nitrate while analysing fatty acids. Like inhaling all the malt vinegar in the world in one go!” Radioactive gaffe Jacqui Lee Mendez-Johnson: “Spilled radioactive buffer while in the cold room spilling all over myself and shoes; panicked and ran down the hallway requiring the entire wing of the building being blocked off for days for decontamination.” Lasting reminder Marcel Kap: “Tried to dispose of H&E staining solutions. Dropped the 10L waste jerry can on the floor. Floor still purple.”
  • Chemical spill forces evacuation of Bangor FedEx facility — Bangor — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine
    BANGOR, Maine — A chemical spill at the FedEx facility on Godsoe Road caused a small fire and forced the building to be evacuated on Friday morning, according to officials. Bangor Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Cyr said the fire was contained to a trailer. Firefighters moved the trailer away from the building and put out the fire after learning what chemical was burning. Cyr described it as an oxidizer. An oxidizer can be a solid, liquid, or gaseous chemical often used to facilitate the combustion of other materials, such as fuel. Firefighters were called to the scene around 5 a.m., Bangor Assistant Chief Dennis Nadeau said later Friday, along with a hazardous materials team from the Orono Fire Department. Nadeau said one employee who was using a forklift was exposed to some of the smoke and hazardous chemical, but was decontaminated at the scene. He was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center for precautionary measures. According to Nadeau, the drums in which the chemicals were being transported broke open, causing the fire. “It’s unknown how they got broken open,” he said. “While removing [the chemical] there was some friction that caused something to catch on fire.”
  • Police Rule Out Drug Making in Appleton Chemical Investigation
    Police and state officials continue to investigate toxic and potentially explosive chemicals found in an Appleton apartment complex after what initially was a report of a break-in. Officers are not giving away the names of the chemicals while the investigation is ongoing. However, they say the substances are not readily available in the area. Investigators believe they were purchased online. The chemicals are legal for purchase, but explosive if mixed. Investigators have a search warrant to go through the suspect’s computers and devices. At about midnight Thursday, Appleton officers were called to the 2600-block of S. Kerry Lane for a report of a man trying to break into a neighbor’s apartment. According to police, the 32-year-old man under the influence of Oxycodone forced his way into an apartment where a woman and a child were sleeping, then tried to pull the woman out of her apartment. The woman and child escaped and ran out of the building. The commotion caused another neighbor to call 911.
  • Lowe’s scrutinized for selling potentially harmful flooring chemical
    Mooresville-based Lowe’s Home Improvement is facing scrutiny about selling flooring containing potentially dangerous chemicals after rival Home Depot pledged to phase out the products by the end of the year. The decision from Home Depot, the world’s largest home-improvement chain, came Wednesday after the company said it worked with consumer groups who warned about vinyl flooring that contains chemicals called phthalates. The retailer is urging other suppliers to phase out their use of the chemicals, too, the New York Times reported. A recent study from HealthyStuff.org, a research group affiliated with the Ecology Center, found that the majority of vinyl flooring tiles sold at major retailers, including Lowe’s, contain toxic phthalates, which are commonly found in flooring at levels exceeding U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission children’s product standards. Researchers said the chemicals have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.
  • Hotel employee injured from chemical spill on city's northwest s
    INDIANAPOLIS - Hazmat was called to the report of a chemical spill Thursday morning on Indianapolis' northwest side. A worker at the Wingate by Wyndham at 6240 Intech Commons Dr was mixing pool chemicals and received some chemical burns to face, according to the Pike Township Fire Department. The worker was transported to St. Vincent Hospital in stable condition. Pike Township Fire called Wayne Township Hazmat to assist and make sure the chemical fumes had dissipated.
  • Former UC Davis Chemist Ordered To Pay Restitution For 2013 Apartment Explosion
    Former University of California, Davis, chemist David S. Snyder must pay nearly $100,000 in restitution to the university and a property management company as a result of a 2013 incident in his campus apartment. The restitution deal concludes legal proceedings against Snyder that involved 17 felony charges, including possession of explosives and firearms and reckless disposal of hazardous waste. He pleaded no contest to the charges last year and was sentenced to two years and two months in county jail plus two years and two months out of jail under supervision by the county probation department. Snyder received both of his chemistry degrees, a bachelor’s in 2004 and a Ph.D. in 2011, from UC Davis. He was working on a temporary research appointment at the time of the incident, UC Davis said in a 2013 press release. Snyder worked for UC Davis chemistry professor Mark J. Kurth on medicinal chemistry research. Snyder injured his left hand in the Jan. 17, 2013, incident. Details of his injury were not revealed during court proceedings. The chemist was doing a small-scale experiment in his apartment to work out a more efficient way to remove nitrate from water, says his attorney, Linda Parisi.
  • Laredo Fire Department on the scene of potential hazmat spill
    LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) - The Laredo Fire Department has identified the industrial chemical that spilled, causing several traffic delays in North Laredo. The department says a truck that was carrying gallons of Cyclohexylamine fell off the truck in the 8400 block of Killam Industrial Blvd off Mines Road. It's used in insecticides, dry cleaning soaps and rubber chemicals among other things. The chemical is moderately toxic and can cause skin irritation, but the department says no one came in direct contact with it. The Laredo Police Department was out on the scene directing traffic. There were no reports of injuries and there's no word how the gallons fell off the truck.
  • De-Icer Caused This Car To Explode And Burn A Woman Inside
    On April 11, Matison Long, of Olympia, WA, went out to her car with a friend to enjoy her lunch. To give herself more leg room, she pushed the driver's seat all the way back. She never expected that moving the chair would cause her car to burst into flames. As Long got comfortable, she unknowingly pressed the seat into a bottle of de-icer she had forgotten was in her car. Long said, "It was literally like a pop, like a helium balloon popping, and then it was silence. There was nothing for maybe 30 seconds." Reportedly, the electrical wiring of the power chair, combined with the liquid from the punctured chemical bottle, caused a fire to break out. The 21-year-old quickly noticed that her own arms were ablaze, and she jumped out of the vehicle to quash the flames. "I did stop, drop and roll for maybe 30 seconds and then I got up," she said. Long looked down at her arms and body and could tell that she was severely burned, so she called 911. Shortly after, she was flown to Harborview Medical Center at the University of Washington in Seattle to be treated.
  • Mosaic worker burned after falling into 170-degree acid
    A worker fell into a tank of 170-degree phosphoric acid and sustained thermal burns over much of his body at the Mosaic fertilizer plant in Riverview early Wednesday, officials said. The worker, who has not been identified by authorities, was transported to Tampa General Hospital for treatment. “His family has expressed to us that he is doing fine,” Mosaic spokesman Richard Ghent said. The man accidently fell into a 12-by-12-foot seal tank being prepared for cleaning about 3:30 a.m., Ghent said. The job involved walking along the edge of the tank, Ghent said. Other employees saw the man fall and activated the facility’s “emergency response system,” said Robert Fredere, general manager of the plant. The man was immediately extracted from the tank, the acid was washed off and 911 was called, Fredere said. Fredere told reporters that the incident was under investigation and that safety meetings were slated for employees to review procedures. “This is not a normal business event for Mosaic,” Ghent said. Phosphoric acid, a preparation of sulfuric acid and phosphate rock, is used in the production of fertilizer, Ghent said.
  • Chinese Officials Blame Chemical Plant Bosses for Explosion
    China's work safety watchdog on Wednesday blamed an explosion at a chemical plant in southeast China this month on the factory's management and failings in local government supervision. The April 6 blast and ensuing hydrocarbon fire at the paraxylene plant in Fujian province left six people hospitalized and renewed discussion on China's social media about the potential dangers of factories that produce the toxic chemical. Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, told reporters Wednesday that the bosses of the Goure PX Plant chose the cheapest bidder to build the facility at the expense of safety. He said a furnace was too close to storage tanks, so when unspecified materials leaked into the furnace because of a broken tube, the blast tore into a tank and caused the fire. Huang also said that the company and local government had failed to adequately carry out safety management and supervision, and that those responsible would be dealt with according to law.
  • Lanes now clear after chemical spill in Bellaire
    HOUSTON (KTRK) -- All main lanes on the Southwest Freeway are now open after a flammable chemical spill last night, but drivers heading inbound on the Southwest Freeway dealt with a major traffic problem Tuesday night. Around 5pm, drivers honked to alert the driver of an 18-wheeler traveling northbound on 59 that his load was leaking. The truck stopped near Bellaire and eventually all lanes of the Southwest Freeway northbound were shut down. A Houston Fire Department HazMat team responded. Crews say they were dealing with three 55-gallon drums of Trimethylbenzene, a highly flammable substance that could be explosive and requires an evacuation of about 1,000 meters. No one was hurt, though traffic inched through on one lane of the feeder road.
  • Chemical mishap killed hundreds of fish as Texas state aquarium
    (Reuters) - Hundreds of fish were killed at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi after an industrial chemical was mistakenly introduced to a huge tank instead of a drug commonly used to kill worms and lice in fish, the aquarium said on Tuesday. Some rare species were among 389 fish killed on April 14, said officials at the tourist attraction and conservator of sea life from the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Only two fish survived. About 13 percent of its entire collection was killed, including a sand tiger shark and hundreds of fish in its 125,000-gallon (473,000-liter) Islands of Steel and 40,000-gallon (151,000-liter) Flower Gardens exhibits, the aquarium said. Aquarium President Tom Schmid said fish began dying after employees introduced what they thought was a low dose of a drug used to kill parasites in fish. Tests showed that a mislabeled container held an industrial chemical commonly used in film processing and in paint and fuel that is a poison and carcinogen, Schmid said.
  • Fire, hazmat crews keep large gasoline spill out of Lake Arlington
    Gasoline from a large spill at an Arlington Heights gas station early this morning leaked into nearby McDonald Creek, but firefighters and hazardous materials crews managed to prevent it from spreading downstream to Lake Arlington, an official said. Authorities blamed the spill on a pump left running overnight at the Citgo gas station at Palatine Road and Windsor Drive, on the village's northeast side. A passer-by spotted the leak shortly before 5:45 a.m., Arlington Heights Deputy Fire Chief Pete Ahlman said. "He hit the emergency shut off to stop the leak, which was very helpful," Ahlman said. It was not known how long the pump had been running, but preliminary estimates indicate as much as 80 gallons of gasoline poured out of the pump before it was turned off, Ahlman said. The cause of the spill remains undetermined, and Arlington Heights police had not been called to investigate whether something criminal occurred.
  • Georgia Tech lab explosion
    ATLANTA (AP) – A laboratory explosion at Georgia Tech caused authorities to evacuate a building at the Atlanta campus. WSB-TV reports a small explosion occurred one of the labs in the building Tuesday afternoon. Georgia Tech officials say no one was injured. Atlanta firefighters emptied the lab building for a short time but it soon reopened as the fire department continued to assess the blast. It was not immediately known what caused the explosion.
  • Blown heater causes explosion at Baytown plant
    BAYTOWN, Texas - Firefighters say a blown heater caused a chemical fire at the Southern Metal Processing plant Monday night. According to the Baytown Fire Department, crews have been out at the scene all night spraying down the flames with water and a special dry suppressant. However, the chemical that spilled, diethylene glycol, self-ignites like trick birthday candles. Diethylene glycol is a cleaning agent used on filters in the chemical industry. Investigators said two workers were inside the plant when the fire started but are OK. No other injuries or evacuations were reported. Most of the damage seemed to be limited to a section of pipes at that plant.
  • High School Science Wing Cleared After Chemistry Lab Spill
    A student accidentally dropped a beaker of chemicals in a chemistry lab classroom at Manchester High School on Monday afternoon, resulting in the clearing of the science wing while hazmat crews cleaned up the spill, police said. School administrators called police about 1:20 p.m. to report the spill, which occurred when the student dropped the 500-milliliter beaker on the floor and it shattered, Capt. Todd Malland of the Manchester Police Department said. The beaker contained manganese (11) sulfate solution, silver nitrate solution 0.2l, lead nitrate solution, nickel sulfate, and cobalt chloride aqueous solution, 2.5 percent, school officials told police. Police evacuated the science wing while members of the Berkeley Township HazMat Response Team decontaminated the scene, Malland said. The teacher and five students who were in the room at the time did not report any injuries at the time of the spill, he said.
  • Lodi chemical cleanup at site of fatal blast nears end
    Twenty years after the deadly explosion at the Napp Technologies chemical plant in Lodi, the site is in the last stages of a large environmental cleanup that local officials hope will finally rid the borough of an eyesore. A proposal to begin construction on a gym and a pharmacy at the site this year would complete the borough’s effort to turn what was an industrial hub along Main Street into a long retail strip — one they hope will help the community move on from the tragedy. Despite assurances by environmental regulators shortly after the explosion that the property would be a priority to remediate and redevelop, it languished for years, like scores of polluted sites across New Jersey. Bureaucratic inertia, feuds among property owners and proposed cleanup plans by Napp’s environmental consultants that the state Department of Environmental Protection deemed to be too lax all contributed to the slow progress, according to a review of government documents.
  • County authorizes more clean up at site of explosion
    Ventura County officials said this week that they’ve issued an emergency use authorization to do more clean up at a site near Santa Paula where a truck exploded in November. About 1,000 gallons of liquid organic peroxide spilled and burned after the rear of a vacuum truck exploded along the 800 block of Mission Rock Road, injuring two people. Forty-four other people were treated at area hospitals for possible exposure to the substance.
  • Chemical bombs found in Lyndeborough driveway
    LYNDEBOROUGH — Four chemical bombs were defused by the New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad on Sunday afternoon. The bombs were found in a driveway at 3 Purgatory Falls Road and reported to police as suspicious items at 3:40 p.m. April 19. The 1- and 2-liter soda bottles contained a dark liquid. The bomb squad determined they were chemical bombs. “At first, we thought it was meth amphetamine, but that is white-colored and this was a dark color,” said Lyndeborough Police Chief Rainsford Deware. Lyndeborough Police Officer Eric MacDuff responded and after inspecting the suspicious bottles, he contacted the New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad, which responded immediately. According to Deware, the bomb squad determined the bottles contained aluminum foil, batteries and toilet bowl cleaner of some sort.
  • Nuclear waste drums stable after fear of chemical reactions
    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico -- Dozens of drums of radioactive waste at one of the nation's premier weapons laboratories are stable after some showed signs of chemical reactions over the past year, according to federal officials. The drums are being closely monitored after a chemical reaction inside a container with similar contents caused a breach in February 2014, resulting in a radiation release and the indefinite closure of the country's only underground nuclear waste dump. Investigators with the U.S. Energy Department confirmed during a recent town hall that there have been chemical reactions in the containers stored at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but the gases building up inside have decreased over the past several months. "That would suggest that the reaction, if it is occurring, is slowing down. It's reached a steady state, and it has stopped," said John Marra, chief research officer for Savannah River National Laboratory and one of the investigators who reviewed the cause of the 2014 radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico. Play VIDEO Officials test air in Los Alamos as fire spreads