Hazmat Alerts

December 22, 2022: (FR)(HM–224I) PHMSA Issues Final Rule on Lithium Batteries Transported by Aircraft

PHMSA issued a final rule revising the HMR for lithium battery transportation by aircraft. The rule prohibits the transportation of lithium batteries in the cargo area of passenger aircraft. It also requires them to be no more than 30% charged during transport when not packed with or contained inside equipment. Additionally, the rule modifies certain provisions including marking requirements, requests for an extension on the compliance date, and exception for batteries used for medical devices. The final rule will be effective as of January 20, 2023.

Docket No. PHMSA–2016–0014 (HM–224I)

December 21, 2022: Derailment Causes Hazmat Spill in Tennessee

Photo by: Jesse Maize

A Norfolk Southern freight train struck a tractor trailer that was hauling a 134-foot concrete bridge beam in Collegedale, TN on Tuesday afternoon. The truck was stopped on the tracks due to a red light. The truck had begun to move across the tracks but was unable to make it before the train slammed into it. The driver of the truck was not injured. The two man crew onboard the train were transported to a local hospital suffering from minor injuries. Two locomotives and ten railcars derailed during the accident. The force of the impact caused diesel fuel and lube oil to leak from two of the locomotives. Authorities estimate around 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the Wolftever Creek. Booms and absorbent pads were deployed to clean up the spill.

Video: Several train cars derail in Collegedale Tuesday afternoon; 2 hurt

December 20, 2022: Ammonia Leak Kills One and Injures Another

An ammonia leak at Home Market Foods in Norwood, MA has left one person dead and another in the hospital. Norwood Police and Fire received a 911 call reporting the accident around 11 am on Monday. When they arrived on scene, the ammonia levels were so high they were unable to enter the building. A hazmat team was called in at that point.
The toxic gas is considered deadly at 300 parts per million. The readings the Norwood Fire Department took upon arrival were over 6,000 parts per million.
He said “It was very dangerous. We had to pull our people back, they tried to get to the victim that was left in there for quite a while, and we had to get the concentrations down.”
According to the DA, a preliminary investigation has shown that the two victims were HVAC contractors who were working at the plant when an ammonia pipe was severed. Fire Chief Hayes said “They were doing nothing associated with the ammonia system. It was just an accident.” The deceased victim was identified as 68-year-old Richard J. Arguin. The name of the other victim was not released.
When he was asked if an action caused the leak. He said “yes, yes, there were things going on, we think we know what it was, but I’m not at liberty to talk about that right now.”
He went on to say “we do know where the leak is coming from, this is a hugely complex ammonia system for refrigerating all these meatballs and chicken wings and things they make here. The ammonia is the refrigerant for these giant freezers they have, so it’s pretty common. It’s a 21,000 pound tank that was leaking, we have no idea how much leaked. There’s no valves, basically all electronics in the area stopped working very quickly so we didn’t have any of the controls.”

Man Dead After ‘Horrific’ Ammonia Incident in Norwood; Second Worker Hospitalized

December 19, 2022: Keystone Pipeline Cleanup Complicated by Diluted Bitumen

The Keystone Pipeline suffered the worst leak in its history last week. Nearly 600,000 gallons of oil spilled into surrounding waterways and land. EPA said the oil that was spilled was diluted bitumen, which is complicating the cleanup efforts. Bitumen is a dense, thick form of oil that shippers dilute with lighter oils so it can move easier through pipelines. Bitumen sinks in water which makes it difficult to collect. Additionally, diluted bitumen forms a residue that sticks to surfaces. So far the response team has been able to recover 5,567 of the 14,000 barrels of oil spilled. The bodies of four mammals and 71 fish that perished in the spill have been recovered.

Spilled diluted bitumen complicates Keystone pipeline cleanup

December 19, 2022: Canadian Pacific Not Liable for Lac-Mégantic Derailment

Aftermath of the Lac-Mégantic derailment.

Justice Martin Bureau, a Quebec judge, has ruled that Canadian Pacific is not liable for the Lac-Mégantic derailment that killed 47 people. Canadian Pacific was sued by three residents who lost family in the accident. In the lawsuit, the family claimed the railroad misclassified crude oil and was aware that the train operator, Montreal Maine & Atlantic, chose an unsafe route to transport the crude oil.
Justice Bureau determined that the actions the railroad was accused of were not the “direct, immediate and logical cause” of the fatal derailment on July 6, 2013. He went on to say that the responsibility for the derailment rested on the train engineer’s shoulders. The engineer, Thomas Harding, went on trial in 2018 but was found not guilty on all charges.

Judge rules Canadian Pacific is not liable in Lac-Mégantic disaster

December 19, 2022: Bluestone Coke Fined $925,000 for Air Pollution Violations

Bluestone Coke, an Alabama company owned by the family of WV Gov. Jim Justice, has been ordered to pay $925,000 to the Jefferson County Health Department for air pollution violations. The plant, located in Birmingham, AL, was shut down in Oct. 2021 after it was determined to be leaking polluting gases. Following the shutdown, the health department sued the plant for damages, calling the plant a “menace to public health”.
The settlement would allow Bluestone Coke to seek a permit to reopen. However, the plant would need to install two monitors to detect sulfur dioxide and hire an independent auditor to conduct bimonthly compliance checks for two years. 
The settlement also designates half of the proceeds from the fine to benefit local neighborhoods. Residents are encouraged to weigh in on potential projects.

Alabama plant owned by W.V. governor’s family fined $925,000