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Inadequate control of chemical hazards cont'd


DOE-HDBK-1139/1-2000
Change Notice No. 1
A subcontractor employee was sprayed with acid when he inserted a hydrochloric acid pump into a
drum of sulfuric acid. When the two acids mixed, a violent chemical reaction caused acid to be
sprayed from the drum approximately 10 feet to the ceiling and onto the employee. (ORPS Report
ORO--MK-WSSRAP-1999-0004)
A technician working in a laboratory discovered a ruptured 1-liter polyethylene bottle of acid on the
floor of a chemical hood. Laboratory personnel had heated it to approximately 140 degrees, capped
it, and placed it in the hood to cool down. Chemists believe that off-gassing of the acid mixture at an
elevated temperature built up sufficient pressure to rupture the bottle. (ORPS Report SR--WSRC-
FSD-1998-0004)
Hazardous waste workers discovered a ruptured 1-liter glass bottle labeled "Used Nitric Acid" in a
waste room. Investigators determined that the unvented bottle had accumulated pressure over time,
causing it to burst. (ORPS Report CH-BH-BNL-NSLS-1996-0002)
A building was evacuated due to fumes generated by mixing a solution of nitric acid, hydrogen
fluoride, and acetic acid with a solution of ethanol, hydrofluoric acid, and water. Investigators
determined that the fumes resulted from a reaction between incompatible materials being mixed for
waste disposal by a technician. (ORPS Report SAN--LLNL-LLNL-1997-0037)
A researcher was adding methanol to two vials containing sodium permanganate and polychlorinated
biphenyls when an unexpected energetic reaction caused the mixture to spray from the vials and onto
the researcher's gloves. Investigators determined that there was an inadequate evaluation of chemical
compatibility. (ORPS Report ORO--ORNL-X10ENVIOSC-1996-0001)
Personnel who responded to a chemical spill of methyl acrylate were never briefed by facility
personnel. As a result, they did not assume command of the event, even though facility procedures
require the command to be transferred to Emergency Management and Response (EM&R) if the
facility does not have adequate resources to handle an event. The fact that the facility called for the
hazardous materials (HAZMAT) team and used the services of occupational medicine was a sign that
it did not have the necessary personnel to deal with the event, so EM&R should have assumed the
role of incident commander. Furthermore, no one was concerned about the flammability of the
chemical. No one called the fire department to respond as a precautionary measure. If the methyl
B-11


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