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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
acrylate had ignited, a fire could have quickly spread through the rest of the lab. Also, if a fire had
occurred when the spill response team entered the room, they could have been severely burned.
(ORPS Report ALO-LA-LANL-TA55-1999-0032)
During a chlorine leak, the emergency response team was not totally familiar with the facility
systems. Plant operators had to tell them how to isolate chlorine cylinders and how to reset alarms to
determine if they were still detecting chlorine. (ORPS Report RL--PHMC-S&W-1999- 0002)
A researcher did not immediately notify his manager or emergency response personnel after a vessel
ruptured and expelled a mixture of 130 degrees centigrade trichloroethylene and hydrogen peroxide
from the face of a fume hood. (ORPS Report RL--PHMC-PNNLBOPER-1998- 0022)
Facility personnel waited approximately 30 minutes before reporting a 2-gallon spill of radioactive
phosphoric acid. Also, personnel in the spill area did not observe restrictions on eating, drinking, and
smoking, and some workers assisted emergency operations personnel without wearing personal
protective equipment. (ORPS Report RFO--KHLL-LIQWASTE-1998-0002)

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