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DEHS responded to two unrelated chemical waste container explosions in laboratory settings. In both cases, incompatible materials were incorrectly added to waste containers. Over time, the waste containers developed pressure causing them to rupture with extreme force. One of the waste containers exploded underneath a fume hood and damaged containers of organic solvents that were stored nearby. The other container exploded in a fume hood. Chemicals and broken glass were blown throughout the laboratory in both cases and required specialized clean-up procedures at a cost of ~$2000.00 each. Although there was great potential for injury in both cases, no one was injured in either, therefore classifying these as near miss accidents.
It is imperative that all chemical waste containers are accurately labeled and properly stored to eliminate mixing of incompatible wastes. All laboratory staff must be trained in chemical waste management and thoroughly understand the waste streams generated from their experiments.
Liquid chemical waste should be stored in sealed plastic "LDPE Nalgene Carboys" or plastic coated glass containers in secondary containment bins. DEHS no longer recommends reusing glass reagent chemical bottles. For more information and training opportunities, please visit our web site at http://www.udel.edu/ehs or contact Jane J. Frank at x2103. In the event of a laboratory emergency or if incompatible materials are mistakenly added to a waste container, immediately contact DEHS at x8475 or University Police at 911 after hours.
Questions regarding this issue should be directed to Jane Frank or call 831-2103.