Articles Posted in Chemical Exposure

An investigation was launched on February 8, 2010 for determining the cause of a recent explosion at a Middletown, Connecticut power plant that killed at least five people and injured a dozen or more others. Based on a northjersey.com story, the huge explosion of the under-construction power plant occurred on February 7, 2010 at 11:15 a.m. and was so massive that residents heard and felt the boom as far as 20 miles away. Approximately 50 to 60 people were in the area at the time of the blast, and while hospital officials have not released the conditions of all of those injured in the power plant explosion, the report mentioned that one pipefitter injured in the explosion suffered a broken leg and wounds ranged from minor to very serious.

Construction for the 620-megawatt power plant was almost complete prior to the explosion. It was being built to produce energy mainly using natural gas, which, according to the report, accounts for almost a fifth of the nation’s electricity. The Connecticut Fire Marshalls and Colorado members of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which investigates industrial chemical accidents, are currently working together in determining exactly what happened. The explosion took place while workers for the O&G Industries construction company were purging a gas line and clearing it of air.
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A chemical plant worker in DuPont, West Virginia has died from exposure to phosgene that took place on January 23, 2010, according to a money.ca.msn.com article. The federal Occupation Health and Safety Administration stated that inspectors are examining a series of leaks that shut down the eastern Kanawha County plant and caused the employee to die. The plant was closed temporarily due to three leaks being reported; however, one leak went undetected for an entire week. The plant is currently reviewing operating procedures and there are no pressing plans to begin production.

Phosgene is a colorless gas that, as demonstrated in this particular incident, can be extremely dangerous because its odor may not be noticed and symptoms of exposure are usually gradual to appear. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have been exposed to an unsafe amount of phosgene are typically observed by doctors for up to 48 hours since it may take that long for symptoms to develop or re-emerge. Some delayed effects of phosgene exposure may include difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, coughing up white to pink-colored fluid as a sign of pulmonary edema, or heart failure. While most individuals who survive phosgene exposure experience a full recovery, many of those affected develop emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
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