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  • Chemical Safety Board Moves To Fire Two Top Staff
    Turmoil at the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board continues as CSB is poised to fire its top two staff members who have been on paid leave since June. In a Nov. 16 letter, CSB member Kristen Kulinowski, a chemist, recommends terminating Daniel Horowitz, CSB managing director. His firing is called for because of misconduct and “conduct unbecoming a federal employee,” she writes in the letter to Horowitz, citing allegations made by CSB employees. The letter was released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a watchdog group that is representing Horowitz, a 15-year CSB staffer. The board would not provide C&EN with details about the possible firing of Horowitz and Richard Loeb, CSB general counsel. Loeb and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment. CSB Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland will make the final decision regarding their terminations after mid-December. Members of Congress have sought the firing of Horowitz and Loeb after lengthy investigations by an oversight committee and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General, which alleged that the two mismanaged the agency and retaliated against CSB employees. Lawmakers and the inspector general lodged similar criticisms against former CSB chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, which led to his forced resignation in March. If Sutherland fires the two, she will be free to fill the positions. However, PEER argues that the allegations are groundless and is preparing to challenge them. Meanwhile, CSB has not investigated a chemical accident since last February, its longest inactive period. Over this time, the U.S. has had some 19 chemically related industrial accidents with 16 fatalities, PEER says.
  • School closed for testing decades after chemical leak
    EL CAJON — Usually the hub of its working-class community, Magnolia Elementary School sits vacant while scientists conduct tests commissioned to ease concerns over a toxic groundwater plume that stretches beneath campus decades after a chemical leak at the neighboring aerospace plant. All but three of the school’s 21 teachers and 500 of the 700 students packed up and moved into temporary accommodations two miles away at the Bostonia Language Academy for the school year — at a cost of about $800,000 (largely for school bus transportation and portable classrooms) to be picked up by Ametek, the plant’s former owner. The company will also foot the bill for a new campus ventilation system, and tests — estimated to cost $300 a day — overseen by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. State regulators, Ametek and the Cajon Valley Union School District-hired specialists have done considerable testing of ambient classroom air and soil gases over the years, with both showing the levels of toxins (including trichloroethylene and benzene) at the school are safe under federal and state guidelines. Air and soil monitoring was conducted annually until August 2012, when Ametek started quarterly tests after the state directed the plant to increase the frequency of air sampling because of new regulations. The school board decided to shutter Magnolia this school year while longer-term tests are conducted in every space — from the cafeteria to classrooms to offices — to put to rest any speculation that the campus might be unsafe.
  • Hazmat crews contain nitric acid leak at plant in south Phoenix
    PHOENIX - Hazmat crews gained quick control of a nitric acid leak Tuesday evening at a plant in south Phoenix. Phoenix firefighters say 70 gallons of the acid reacted when it got too hot at the QuantumClean facility near 40th Street and University. QuantumClean specializes in parts cleaning and tool restoration. The facility also cleans copper with nitric acid. There are no injuries reported at this time.
  • State probing Manchester propane leak
    MANCHESTER >> Two state agencies are probing the Nov. 12 propane leak that led to one man suffering severe burns. The state's Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the Division of Fire Safety (DFS) are jointly investigating the incident, according to Bruce Martin, regional director of the DFS's Springfield office and deputy chief of the Vermont HAZMAT Response Team (VHMRT). "We are investigating the incident jointly to determine what happened and how a similar situation may be prevented in the future," Martin wrote in an email Monday afternoon. ... The DFS and VHMRT are two state agencies which oversee above-ground storage tanks, such as those that hold propane, heating oil or used oil. Just after 8 a.m. on Nov. 12, emergency personnel responded to the large cloud of propane from an above-ground storage tank at a propane bulk storage tank facility, which is located off of Depot Street (Route 30) on Taconic Business Park Road. According to the Manchester Fire Department, a truck driver, reportedly with Suburban Propane, may have left a valve open during a propane transfer at the depot. An estimated 200 gallons of propane leaked out into the air. A second truck driver, John Matala, 42, of Cambridge, N.Y. suffered bad "cold burns" when he turned off a valve at the depot. He was taken to a Burlington hospital with burns on nearly 30 percent of his body.
  • 7 ON YOUR SIDE investigates potentially dangerous rainbow experiment
    WASHINGTON (ABC7) — It's an experiment done in classrooms across the country. But as students and teachers discovered three weeks ago at a Fairfax County high school, it can have devastating results. The 7 ON YOUR SIDE I-Team found W.T. Woodson High School isn't the only place to experience the dark side of the so-called "Rainbow Experiment." It is a spectacle of science, meant to engage students. You can see it in YouTube videos like this one: Kristin Kulinowski with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board says, "It's pretty dramatic. It's colorful. And it's beautiful." But she and other experts say the Rainbow Experiment is also extremely dangerous if it's done using flammable chemicals and an open flame. Kim Duncan, Professional Learning Associate with American Chemical Society, tells 7 ON YOUR SIDE, "They can cause really serious injury if they're not handled properly." That's what happened last month at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax. Sophomore Nick Dache was in the classroom October 30th, when the experiment went out of control. He chased a burning classmate down the hall to put out her flaming body.
  • Fire breaks out in JNU laboratory
    NEW DELHI: A fire broke out in a laboratory at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University on Sunday evening. Though none of the students were injured in the incident, university authorities suspect that some important documents including a few theses of students might have been lost in the blaze. The incident was reported around 4.50pm when a guard noticed smoke coming out of the laboratory at the school of environmental studies and informed the fire department. Four fire engines were rushed to the spot and the blaze was doused within half an hour. Fire officials suspect that the fire was caused due to a short circuit in one of the power units at the laboratory . A team from the local police station was also rushed to the spot along with a crime team to lift evidences. Police officers have also launched a separate probe to find out the cause of fire. Senior officers from the university said that a probe has been initiated to find out the extent of loss. Officials said that a few copies of thesis were kept in the room where the fire broke out.
  • US envoy: Chemical attacks 'becoming routine' in Syria
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The U.S. envoy to the international chemical weapons watchdog warned Monday that the use of such toxic arms is "becoming routine in the Syrian civil war." Rafael Foley was speaking at a closed meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' Executive Council, which was called to discuss recent reports by a fact-finding mission, including that a "non-state actor" likely used the chemical agent sulfur mustard in August during fighting in the Syrian town of Marea, killing a baby. Foley said Syrian opposition forces were fighting the Islamic State group in the town close to the Turkish border. The text of his speech was posted on The Hague-based watchdog's website. The fact-finding mission, which took and tested samples and interviewed witnesses, also said that chlorine likely was used as a weapon between March and May in Idlib, leaving six people dead. After the meeting, attended by representatives of 38 member states, the executive council issued a statement "expressing grave concern" about the fact-finding mission's conclusions that "chemical weapons have once again been used in" Syria and saying that those responsible should be held accountable. A special investigation team has been set up by the United Nations and OPCW to identify who is responsible for chemical attacks in Syria.
  • 2 managers plead guilty in explosion at California plant
    SANTA PAULA, Calif. (AP) - Two managers have pleaded guilty in connection with an explosion at a Southern California waste treatment plant last year. Mark Avila and Brock Baker pleaded guilty Friday to failing to warn of a serious concealed danger and charges related to the storage of hazardous substances and repeated failures to communicate with employees about hazardous substances. The Ventura County Star reports ( ) that they face up to three years in county jail at their sentencing June 1. The November 2014 blast at Santa Clara Wastewater in Ventura County sent 52 people to hospitals, including 10 firefighters. All but two were quickly treated and released. No injuries were life-threatening. An investigation found the explosion was a chemical reaction between sodium chlorite and sewage.
  • No One Hurt in Chemical Explosion in Chestnut Ridge
    A bin containing pool chemicals and other combustible items exploded on the deck of a home in the Village of Chestnut Ridge early Sunday afternoon, Ramapo Police reported. Ramapo Police responded to an address in the Village of Chestnut Ridge after receiving report of an explosion of a plastic bin containing the chemicals. Upon arrival, officers were informed that a plastic storage bin located on the homeowner’s deck had exploded. Damage was contained to the bin and the immediate area of the deck, police said. There were no injuries as a result of the incident, Baruch Hashem. Ramapo detectives, Rockland County Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Monsey Fire Department responded to the scene and assisted with the investigation.
  • HAZMAT team responds to chemicals found at Irvine Hall
    A HAZMAT team from Logan was called in to assist with disposal of chemicals found in storage at Irvine Hall on Friday afternoon, temporarily closing down the building on the Ohio University campus. According to a report from the Ohio University Police Department, around 3 p.m. on Friday some chemicals in storage at Irvine Hall were found to be in deteriorating containers, thus creating the potential for unsafe environmental conditions. According to Athens Fire Lt. Doug Ford, the chemicals were found to be in old viles with handwritten names on them. As a precaution, the building was evacuated until the situation could be full assessed. The Athens Fire Department responded as well as the HAZMAT team from Logan Fire Department and Hocking County EMS. Fire personnel subsequently determined that there had been no chemical leakage and that Irvine Hall is safe. Normal operations resumed at the building at noon on Saturday.
  • Southwest Career Tech classroom cleared after possible chemical spill
    (10:15 a.m. Friday update): A demonstration in a chemistry lab created fumes that irritated the eyes, noses, and throats of the students in the affected classroom. Six students and a teacher that were in the classroom were evaluated by medical crews. Nobody was transported for treatment. The event ended at 10:02 a.m. and the building was deemed safe for students and faculty, according to the Clark County Fire Department.
  • Man dies after setting self on fire making meth under bridge
    PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - UPDATE: Police say the man, still unidentified, died of his injuries at a regional burn unit. A man was taken to the hospital in critical condition after police say he accidentally set himself on fire while trying to make a methamphetamine-type substance underneath a bridge in Palm Springs. Police Lieutenant Mike Kovaleff said authorities were called to the Ramon Road bridge, located between Landau Boulevard and Crossley Road, just after 3 p.m. Friday. A Riverside County sheriff's deputy and another person in the area spotted the man fully engulfed in flames. They tried to extinguish the flames and emergency crews rushed the man to Desert Regional Medical Center. Officials on scene told News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 the man suffered second and third-degree burns to 70 percent of his body. A Riverside County Hazardous Materials Team tested substances underneath the bridge. The preliminary investigation indicated the fire was accidental and was caused when a combination of chemical ignited while the man tried to make a form of methamphetamine, Lt. Kovaleff said.
  • Fairfax County Updates Teacher Safety Training In Wake of Woodson Fire
    Science teachers across Fairfax County Public Schools have begun mandatory updated safety training in the wake of an Oct. 30 fire at Woodson High School that injured five students and a teacher, and caused $7,500 in damage. #The fire started in a sophomore chemistry class during an experiment that involved an open flame. #Superintendent Dr. Karen Garza immediately banned all science experiments with open flames, but the ban is scheduled to be lifted once all teachers have completed their training. School system spokesperson John Torre said the updated training for high school teachers is expected to be finished by the end of November. #Torre also said Fairfax County Public Schools is conducting its own internal review of the incident, as well as responding to inquiries from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Fire Marshall. While those investigations continue, the school system will not release any more information on the incident. #Shawna Lawhorne, a representative from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, said her organization is not investigating the Woodson accident, but has “gathered facts about the incident to better understand the scope and severity of the problem.” #One year before the Woodson incident, Oct. 30, 2014, the Safety Board released a safety bulletin titled “Key Lessons for Preventing Incidents from Flammable Chemicals in Educational Demonstrations.” #Lawhorne said the bulletin brings together their findings from three accidents that occurred in 2014 where students were burned during experiments similar to the one that was taking place at Woodson. #“We will continue to gather data on these kinds of incidents and aggressively advocate for adoption of the key lessons learned during our previous investigation into this hazard,” Lawhorne said in an email.
  • Underground ‘fire’ at landfill is a misnomer
    The Bridgeton Landfill fire is not a fire — at least, not in the way you typically think of it. Yes, in this case you have to forget what you likely remember from seventh-grade science class, says Russ Knocke, vice president of communications and public affairs for Republic Services in Phoenix, Ariz., which owns the landfill. He knows that when most people hear “fire,” they immediately think of the classic combustion triangle with its three sides of heat, fuel and oxygen. Put enough of those ingredients together, and you’ll get the smoke and flames you’ve seen in every blazing inferno that has ever led the 10 p.m. news. If that recipe were producing the current situation in Bridgeton, Republic probably would be doing a happy dance, Knocke said. The company could pour water or spread foam or shut off the source of air to snuff it out, just as firefighters do to extinguish your run-of-the-mill house or trash fire. But it can’t. Instead, deep below ground, a mountain of densely compacted waste dumped over 20 years is slowly decomposing, giving off heat as rotting waste does. But for reasons not understood, the decomposition here went out of control in some areas and began producing twice the amount of heat you’d find at a “normal” landfill. For nearly five years now, these abnormal levels of heat have continued to spread. This migrating heat pocket is the “fire” you keep reading about in the headlines, but there’s no flame — and no oxygen to speak of down there to feed it, Knocke said. To science geeks, it’s known as an exothermic chemical reaction, but journalists and politicians don’t want to hit readers and constituents with incomprehensible terms so “fire” remains the word of choice. Either way, the conclusion is obvious: It takes far more than sticking a hose into the ground to put one of these babies out.
  • Cody Recreation Center reopens after chemical smell checked out
    CODY, Wyo. - The Cody Recreation Center reopened to the public Friday afternoon after a chemical smell forced the evacuation of the facility late Thursday.. Just after 4 PM Thursday, some patrons at the center experienced breathing difficulties after a chemical odor was detected n the pool areas.   Staff members immediately evacuated the pool areas and alerted authorities. Cody police, fire and ambulance crews responded to the facility, with fire crews working to ventilate the center throughout the night.. Recreation Center officials said a preliminary investigation determined there was a ventilation challenge within the mechanical room during a routine cleaning process. The incident continues to be investigated, but officials said there were no suspicious circumstances.
  • Small chemical spill temporarily closes MU building
    University of Missouri Environmental Health and Safety personnel on Saturday morning temporarily evacuated MU’s chemistry building after a small chemical spill. MU spokesman Christian Basi said researchers in the building were conducting an experiment when they spilled a small amount of phosphorous-32, a radioactive isotope. “They immediately instituted safety protocol and contacted the Environmental Health and Safety office on campus,” Basi said. The Environmental Health and Safety crew closed off the room and evacuated the building, Basi said. He was not sure how many people were in the building at the time but said fewer than four people were involved in the experiment that created the spill. Within two hours, the spill had been cleaned up and the building was safe for people to re-enter, Basi said.
  • Wharves evacuated after chemical fire
    Twenty fire fighters attended the fire at Bledisloe Wharf at about 2.40pm. The Bledisloe, Jellicoe, Fergusson and Freyberg wharves were closed off. Ports of Auckland said a contract worker was responsible for the fire. Spokesperson Matt Ball said the contract worker had been removing 35 cannisters of a pesticide from a wheat ship. "The fumigant is then usually treated in a large container of water to remove any residue, and in this case there was more residue than normal and that the gas that was released caught fire, so it was a small fire on top of water which released some further gas." Mr Ball said they would be investigating the incident. One person was treated by ambulance staff for minor burns.
  • KCSO: 4 children burned by unknown chemical in Oildale
    KCSO deputies and medical aid arrived and located 4 children, ages 5-10, suffering from what appeared to be chemical burns.  KCSO officials said one child was transported by ambulance to the hospital for treatment and is in good condition. The remaining children were treated on scene. Kern County Environmental Health responded and neutralized the chemical. "Through the investigation it was determined that the group of children had located the chemical bottle in a public place and were playing with it when they suffered the exposure," officials said.  Officials added that it does not appear to be any criminal intent.
  • Chemical Footprint Project Welcomes $2.1 trillion and more in support!
    Clean Production Action (CPA) and the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) are excited to announce a new transatlantic partnership with ChemSec – the International Chemical Secretariat based in Sweden. Together we are working with investors to drive demand for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in products through the Chemical Footprint Project. IEHN and ChemSec are the catalysts for 37 investors with $2.1 trillion in assets under management becoming Signatories to the Chemical Footprint Project. Investors from across the globe are now Signatories to the Chemical Footprint Project. Legal and General Investment Management recently joined BNP Paribas IP, Aviva Investors, WHEB Asset Management, Calvert Investments, and Australian Ethical Investment as Signatories to the Project. The Chemical Footprint Project provides the first-ever common metric for benchmarking companies’ management and use of chemicals, including how they respond to the increasing market demand for safer products. By providing a common set of questions and evaluation criteria, the Chemical Footprint Project establishes a standardized system of measurement critical to facilitating meaningful comparisons. The results provide a barometer of how well companies manage chemical risks – identifying best in class performers– making it easier for investors to identify leading companies.  Like carbon footprinting, chemical footprinting can apply to any business sector. What does this mean for socially responsible investors? Simply put, more data = better investment decisions.
  • Two lab accidents resulted in a minor injury, traffic inconvenience
    On Friday, Nov. 13 a Case Western Reserve University alert went out warning that vehicle traffic should avoid Adelbert Road, because the Cleveland Fire Department was responding to a chemical spill in Kent Hale Smith Building. The alert was due to an unattended experiment gone awry in the Macromolecular and Engineering Department, which had caused a chemical explosion that led to a fume hood being damaged. The chemical explosion was thought to have released bromine gas because of the brown cloud in the room. Within five minutes, a hazmat team was on scene to deal with this seemingly hazardous material, though they quickly discovered that they were not actually needed. What was originally thought to be bromine gas turned out to merely be a brown substance that had atomized upon explosion, turning into a brown cloud. Initially four people were taken to the hospital that should not have entered the room but did anyway. These people were screened for any issues, given a precautionary shower and released. “Had we known exactly what it was from the very beginning, hazmat wouldn’t have been called, and we could have been in there with sponges and paper towels cleaning up the mess,” said Marc Rubin, the senior director of Safety Services and chemical safety officer for CWRU.
  • Officers taken to hospital after hazmat situation
    BOSTON ( -- Four officers were taken to Boston Medical Center Thursday due to a meth hazmat situation. Police were called to Brookline Street early Thursday morning for the report of a man breaking into vehicles. Officers stopped a man and arrested him. When officers got back to the South End Station, police said they discovered an unknown substance on him. Fire crews tested the material and determined it was one of the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. Officers were taken to the hospital out of precaution.
  • Paris attackers used 'mother of satan' explosives
    The suicide bombers who blew themselves up during the Paris attacks on Friday used an explosive known as the "Mother of Satan" for its volatile nature, according to authorities. Triacetone-Triperoxide, or TATP, is relatively easy to manufacture, using everyday materials that can be bought at a regular pharmacy. However, it is extremely difficult to handle as it easily blows during construction of bombs or suicide vests. TATP was also used by so-called 'shoe-bomber' Richard Reid, and its use in suicide vests is not surprising, according to Kirk Dennis, a special agent and certified explosives specialist with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. What is unusual, however, is that each of the suicide vests blew up as intended, rather than killing the bomb maker before the vests could be distributed to the attackers, or accidentally detonating before reaching its intended target.
  • Officials add to Santa Clara Waste Water citations
    Santa Clara Waste Water Co. has been cited with more violations in connection with chemicals found recently at the facility, Ventura County Environmental Health officials said. The citations stem from a search warrant executed Nov. 5 at the company's facility at 815 Mission Rock Road near Santa Paula. According to a warrant obtained by The Star, chemicals found at the site could cause "severe burns" and should be restricted to professional users with corrosive-resistant protective equipment. Jeff Barry, a district attorney investigator, wrote in the search warrant that the chemicals found inside a metal storage container are caustic and "can create strong heat reactions" when mixed with incompatible acids. According to the affidavit, Santa Clara Waste Water officials have not submitted any new chemical inventory to the state Environmental Reporting System since April 22. Rick Bandelin, hazardous materials manager for Ventura County Environmental Health, said Thursday he could not comment specifically about materials recently found at the facility, but said the violations are related to the ongoing investigation by the District Attorney's Office. Bandelin said Santa Clara Waste Water does have clearance to use materials that are still on site, but also said the company had not reported chemicals found recently by district attorney investigators. The citation handed to the company came a year after a Nov. 18, 2014, explosion at the plant caused a 1,000-gallon chemical spill and fire that seriously injured employees and firefighters. Santa Clara, parent company Green Compass Environmental Solutions and nine administrators and employees were indicted by a grand jury on 71 counts of various criminal offenses related to that explosion. According to district attorney investigators, the explosion was caused by sodium chlorite, which is volatile when mixed with organic materials. Officials said the chemicals and waste were being mixed in a large vacuum truck.
  • Police responded to small lab explosion at Westerville Central
    WESTERVILLE — Police responded to the report of a small explosion in a lab at Westerville Central High School. Genoa Township police tell ABC 6 that the small explosion damaged property, the hood the students were working under in the lab. Authorities tell ABC 6 that students were working on an experiment in a science lab classroom and there was a "chemical reaction" with a lot of smoke. The scene was quickly contained. ABC 6 reporter Mike Kilburn reports debris was across the room, and one of the Genoa Township police officers confirms it was an explosion. Police tell ABC 6/FOX 28 that three students required minor on-site first aid. Their parents were notified and they are back in class, according to Greg Viebranz.
  • 2-alarm fire burns Woodland auto business
    WOODLAND, Wash. – A two alarm fire at an automobile sales and repair business gutted the repair shop, and destroyed at least a dozen vehicles. The fire at I & P Auto on Old Pacific Highway was called-in shortly after 3:30 a.m. About 50 firefighters from Woodland, Clark County Fire and Rescue and Vancouver kept the fire from spreading. Solvents and other chemical solutions fed the fire and added to the challenge for fire crews, according to a battalion chief on scene, who added that no firefighters were hurt. No damage amount was available Tuesday morning, as investigators tried to determine a cause for the blaze.