Bayer Fined $136K Over Exposure to Methylenedianiline
OSHA fined Bayer Corp. $135,900 for seven violations surrounding exposure of workers to a carcinogenic chemical at a Bayer plant about 15 miles east of Houston. Among the violations cited by the agency were failing to monitor employees' chemical exposure, not alerting them of an emergency, failing to ensure workers wear protective clothing and failing to safely store contaminated items.
It is not known whether Bayer contested the citations and penalties.
Gas Pipeline Explosion in Philadelphia Closes Area Highway (December
A gas pipeline exploded in flames, lighting up the night sky and closing
sections of Interstate 76. No injuries were reported.
The blowout at a Philadelphia Gas Works plant left about 1,000 customers with low gas pressure Saturday, and some with no heat, and the company asked its approximately 500,000 customers to cut back on using the fuel.
Highs for that day reached only into the twenties. The closure of I-76
delayed traffic for several hours, including departing fans from a Knicks-76ers basketball game.
$118 Million Jury Award for 1999 Phillips Explosion; Amount to be
Slashed (December 18, 2000)
A Texas jury awarded $118 million to the widow of a worker who died in a
1999 Phillips Petroleum Co. explosion. However, due to state tort reform
on punitive damages, the final award will amount to only $11 - $12
million. The state law affects awards where the defendant was
"negligent," but not if the defendant "knowingly" or
"intentionally" caused the death.
Under the 1995 law, such damages are limited to twice the amount awarded for actual monetary loss plus a maximum $750,000 award for other losses, like mental
anguish. State District Judge Sharolyn Wood told the jurors how the law
affected their decision after they delivered the verdict.
Phillips accepted responsibility for the original June 23, 1999 explosion
that killed two workers, but litigated the case because they felt the
plaintiff's claimed excessive damages. In spite of the greatly reduced
amount, however, Phillips is appealing the reduced award. According to a
statement by Phillips, "We agree that the family deserves to be compensated at a reasonable
level. However, we believe this verdict is excessive and in error, and accordingly, we intend to file an appeal.''
Fire Guts Electroplating Complex in Gastonia, Causes $ 1 Million
Damages (January 2, 2001)
A fire at the Industrial Electroplating Co. caused explosion that could be
heard for about a mile. The fire took place in the early morning and no one was inside the 10,000-square-foot building at the time. It took 75 firefighters, including hazardous materials experts, about an hour to control the blaze.
The fire caused several explosions of electrical transformers above the building and hazardous materials inside the complex. Area residents said the
explosions sounded like bombs detonating. The blaze was confined to one of seven buildings on the property, which takes up almost a full city block.
The 70-employee company coats metal parts with materials such as zinc and nickel for automotive, electronic and telecommunications customers.
Later, investigators tested runoff from the site and chemicals inside the complex and found them to be at levels that would not pose health risks.
Wisconsin Chemical Fire in Train Car Forces Evacuation (December 17,
About 750 homes in Oshkosh, Wisconsin were evacuated away from a train car
loaded with 141,000 pounds of sodium hydrosulfite, a highly flammable
chemical. When the chemical is exposed to water, it begins to burn. Hydrogen sulfide emits a characteristic ``rotten egg'' odor when released.
Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the boxcar, but decided to
let the fire burn out on its own. Residents could return after that time,
which was expected to take 2 - 4 days. No serious injuries
Texaco Investigates Deaths Linked to Oil Pollution from Nigerian Plant
(December 15, 2000)
Texaco announced it was investigating nine deaths, including eight children, in Nigeria's Niger Delta which a newspaper linked to oil pollution from one of its facilities.
The independent Guardian newspaper, quoting the environmental rights group
Environmental Rights Action, said a chemical discharge from Texaco's offshore Funiwa 5 oil platform, seeped into rivers and streams in southern Bayelsa State, resulting in the deaths.
There has been conflict in the Niger Delta over the effects of oil
pollution from ongoing oil extraction activities there.
400 Evacuate Following Conoco Gasoline Spill in Montana (December 14,
One hundred worker were involved in the cleanup of an estimated 105,000
gallons of gasoline spilled from a Conoco storage tank. The flow was
stopped within 24 hours and according to a Conoco spokesman, all the fuel was
contained within a berm surrounding the tank.
A fire suppression foam was also sprayed on the spill to reduce the threat of fire or explosion.
There were no reports of serious injuries.
Eight Dead, 19 Injured in Ecuador Pipeline Bombing (December 13, 2000)
At least eight people were killed and 19 wounded Wednesday in one of three bomb attacks against Ecuador's main oil pipeline near the border with
The victims were traveling in a passing bus shortly after midnight when the second of three blasts hit the pipeline in the Amazon jungle province of Sucumbios near the Colombian border, about 85 miles northeast of Quito.
It was the eighth time this year that the pipeline, which stretches 311 miles from the oil-rich Amazon jungle region to a refinery on the coast, has been paralyzed.
Government officials insisted the origin of the blast was external,
although some critics speculated that the origin could be from the
pipeline itself (which was built in 1972). Colombian rebels operate along the border and have often dynamited oil pipelines in Colombia to extort money and to protest what they call foreign exploitation of the country's natural resources.
The explosions also caused some 3,000 barrels of oil to leak from the pipeline, most of which burned off in a blaze that died down when the pipeline was shut
Oil is Ecuador's primary export, accounting for $1.3 billion in sales in 1999.
The government is negotiating a deal with the private sector to build a second pipeline for heavy crude, starting in 2001.
The Andean nation of 12.4 million people produces about 380,000 barrels of crude daily, with about 60 percent of production coming from state oil company Petroecuador.
Rice Inspections Ordered in China (December 11, 2000)
In a departure from stories about chemical incidents, here is one about
other uses for chemicals. The Chinese government ordered nationwide
inspections of rice following reports that farmers were tainting rice with
industrial chemicals to add weight before sale.
Authorities in Henan province found 46 tons of the tainted rice, which they said had been sold by farmers there to a company in southern Guangdong province, newspapers said.
Three farmers were arrested and another was being sought, the reports said.
The farmers allegedly added industrial-purpose oils to make the rice heavier so it would fetch higher
prices. The hunt for "poison rice" has also been expanded to
include inspections of mustard oil, salad oil, edible oils, and corn oil.
150 Evacuated As Hydrochloric Acid Leaks at Paint Plant (December 14,
A broken flange on a tanker preparing to off-load its cargo at a paint plant is being blamed for a hydrochloric acid spill and the evacuation of about 150 workers. No injuries were reported after several hundred gallons of acid spilled on the
property of CDR Pigments & Dispersions, a plant that manufactures paint
pigments, and the leak was stopped within two hours. This is the third serious incident at the company at CDR in the past three
years. The others were a 1998 a nitrous oxide leak that prompted a plant
evacuation, and a 1997 accident where two employees were burned by steam and hot water when they failed to release a pressure valve before opening a lid.
Fire at ExxonMobil Singapore Chemical Plant, 3 Injured (December 9, 2000)
A fire at a new petrochemical plant in Singapore early on Saturday left three workers critically injured while a fourth received outpatient
The three Singaporean workers suffered 50 to 60 percent burn injuries as they were trying to switch on an additional source of fuel supply to the
boiler. The operations of the affected boiler and another adjacent utility steam boiler have been stopped for
investigation. Before the fire, the $ 2 billion petrochemical complex was
due to start operations the following week. It is designed to produce 800,000
tons of ethylene and includes downstream plants to produce polyethylene and polypropylene.
Lockheed to Pay $5 Million to Settle Burbank, California Suit (December
Lockheed Martin Corp. will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit by more than 300 Burbank residents who claimed they got sick from toxic chemicals released during decades of manufacturing.
The defense contractor has already paid $93 million to settle claims by thousands of other residents and former workers who also said they were sickened by the manufacturing byproducts that allegedly contaminated air, soil and ground water.
The company, however, has never admitted that anyone was harmed by toxins, including hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6, that were released in Burbank.
The settlement includes about 200 claims awaiting trial in state court, plus 140 claims dismissed earlier this year due to lack of evidence.
Nuclear Fuel Fragment Found Leaking (November 30, 2000)
Workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant found a highly radioactive fuel fragment atop the sarcophagus that covers a reactor ruined in the world's worst nuclear
The 8-inch fragment emits radiation of some 200 Roentgen an hour at close range, which is thousands of times higher than normal background radiation.
Some 180 tons of nuclear fuel were located in the reactor at the moment of its explosion, and scientists have accounted for only 140 tons of it.
Ukraine has promised to close down the plant on December 15 following pressure from Western nations, domestic and foreign environmental groups and Ukrainians concerned about the site's safety.
Owner, Manager Held in South African Factory Fire (November 20, 2000)
Police arrested the owner and manager of a South African factory in
Johannesburg where 11 people burned to death because they were locked in
the plant during their 14-hour night shift.
One worker who missed the night shift because of illness told Reuters at the scene that the owner feared his staff would steal from his stores.
Witnesses who rushed from a nearby nightclub said they had listened to the screams of the trapped workers but could do nothing because all entrances were padlocked and they had no way of breaking open the locks.
EPA Seeks GE Cleanup of Hudson, Cost: $490 million (December 6, 2000)
In a move that has already generated controversy, US EPA revealed
plans to remove Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from New York's Hudson
River by dredging the river for "PCB Hot Spots" over a five-year
period along a 40 mile stretch north of Albany. Under CERCLA (Superfund),
they are also seeking money from General Electric (GE) to pay for it. GE plants dumped 1.2 million pounds of the toxic chemicals in the river legally between 1947 and
1977, but CERCLA provides for cost recovery regardless of whether the act
was done lawfully at the time. The controversy is twofold: does the
river pose a health risk that deserves such an expense and is dredging
the best way to accomplish the cleanup. Predictably EPA and GE have
squared off on opposing sides. EPA points to
PCB levels in the Hudson's fish that still exceed safety standards
100-fold and that other animals, such as eagles, are also apparently contaminated.
GE argues that EPA's remedy "charts a course of environmental devastation for the Upper Hudson River for a generation or
more" and that the PCBs pose no health risk in normal use of the
river. GE has already voluntarily spent $200 million to clean up PCBs on the Hudson's shoreline.
Three Killed, Nine Injured When Hydrogen Sulfide Leaks at Chemical Plant
(November 24, 2000)
Three workers at the plant were killed and nine others were injured when hydrogen sulfide
leaked at a sulfuric acid plant that is part of the Ufanefkhim chemical complex in Ufa, the capital of the Bashkortostan region, about 720 miles (1,200 kilometers) southeast of Moscow.
Army Says 21 Rockets Found Leaking Nerve Gas (November 28, 2000)
Twenty-one leaking rockets were discovered during monitoring operations on November 14 and 15, but an "oversight" resulted in a 12-day delay in reporting the discoveries to the media and public.
The Army is constructing an $800 million incinerator at the depot to destroy 2,000 tons of deadly sarin, mustard and VX gases stored in dirt-covered igloos at the east Alabama installation. Destruction of the chemicals is slated to begin next year. However, Calhoun County officials earlier this month rejected the Army's proposed plan for dealing with accidental gas releases. The proposal includes ordering some residents to
shelter in place during a leak.
Industrial Worker in Michigan Dies When Splashed With Phenol While Measuring Chemical's Temperature
(December 2, 2000)
The toxic chemical phenol splashed on a 34-year-old man and attempts to decontaminate and treat him at the scene were unsuccessful.
The incident took place at the Borden Chemical plant in
Sheboygan, Michigan. The worker was measuring the temperature of the highly caustic chemical phenol when some of it splashed on
him as it was being unloaded from a railroad car. Phenol is transported as a solid or in gel form. It had to be heated to be removed from the rail car.
The accident happened as a rail car full of the chemical was being transferred into a building at the
plant. The phenol soaked the worker and efforts to decontaminate him
failed; he died at the scene from burns and possibly lung damage.
Zambia's Only Oil Refinery Gutted by Fire for the Second Time, One Day Before Startup Scheduled (December
Zambia's only oil refinery, was gutted by fire a day before the refinery was to begin operations after undergoing
repairs following a 1999 blaze. One of the three furnaces that are instrumental in oil processing has been damaged by the fire,
and would take weeks to fix.
Currently Zambia is a net importer of petroleum products. The nation is operating in a precarious situation because of the ad-hoc manner in which importation of fuel is
Four Dead, 13 Injured When Valve Fails on Tank Containing Liquid Ammonia in
China (December 17, 200)
Four of the 13 injured were in serious condition after the valve on the tanker belonging to the Xinhua Chemical Company Ltd in Jiande
City burst, spilling the
ammonia, the Zhejiang Youth Daily reported. Firemen and chemical experts were called in from the provincial capital of Hangzhou, some 90 miles (150 km) away to help contain the spill.
Five Workers Die of Burns After Chemicals Explode at Pharmaceutical Plant in
India (December 19, 2000)
Five workers were reported charred to death in the fire that followed an explosion
at the Wellworth Pharmaceutical factory in Palgar taluka of Thane district in Mumbai,
Although the majority of the workers escaped, six were trapped inside. The fire brigade retrieved five bodies, and a sixth
worker was rushed to the hospital with burns over 95 per cent of her body. Five more workers are being treated in a local hospital. The
police later questioned the owner of the company, Laxminarayan Mani
Tripathi. Although the reason for the fire was not determined, it is believed that the stock of chemicals used in the manufacture of capsules exploded.
Large-Scale Evacuation in Ecuador Following Cyanide Accident (December
Firefighters in protective suits were sent in to clean up the accident, which occurred around sundown Wednesday when the truck, carrying wooden crates filled with powdered cyanide used in gold production, overturned at the entrance to a bridge crossing the Guayas River. Several of the crates were thrown to the river's edge, prompting an emergency response to prevent the toxic powder from making contact with the water, which could have produced a poisonous cloud. Residents within a nearly one-mile
perimeter were forced to evacuate their homes in Duran, a district of some 50,000 people in northern Guayaquil, a city on the Pacific coast 167 miles southwest of the capital city of Quito.
Sources and Disclaimer:
AcuSafe's Incident News Summary is primarily compiled from Reuters and AP
news wires, and from information shared on the U.S. Chemical Safety and
Hazard Investigation Board Chemical Incident Reports Center. An effort has
been made to summarize stories only from reputable sources, but neither
AcuSafe nor AcuTech Consulting can guarantee the accuracy of the story,
nor do they necessarily reflect the views of AcuTech, AcuSafe, and its
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