Explosion hits BASF Texas chemical plant
FREEPORT, TEXAS - A Sept. 13 explosion and fire led to the evacuation of a BASF Corp. plant in Freeport.
Four people employed at the plant were treated for minor injuries resulting from the incident, which occurred at about 9:30 a.m. after an amount of nylon 6 feedstock cyclohexanone oxime was released from a rail car, according to a BASF news release. Eight employees at a neighboring Dow Chemical plant were treated for smoke inhalation, a Dow spokeswoman said.
BASF produces nylon 6 at the site, along with several other chemicals including acrylic acid, caprolactam and oxo alcohol. The site is one of BASF's largest in North America, encompassing 16 plants and employing more than 1,100.
The fire was under control as of noon Sept. 13. The surrounding community was in no immediate danger, but residents downwind of the site were advised to stay indoors as a precaution during cleanup, the news release said.
A BASF spokesman said the firm was unsure when employees would be allowed to re-enter the plant or when production would resume. BASF officials said they will investigate.
FDA probing dialysis patients' deaths
WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether tubing used in dialysis equipment is responsible for five deaths and two injuries of patients at two Midwest clinics in late August.
The FDA said Sept. 12 that blood tubing used with Baxter Healthcare Corp.'s Meridian dialysis machines ``may possibly be linked'' to the incidents, which took place at the Nephrology Inc., clinic in Mishawaka, Ind., and Physicians Dialysis in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Medisystems Corp. of Seattle supplied the tubing. The FDA said it is working closely with Baxter, in Deerfield, Ill., and Medisystems to identify the cause.
Baxter told customers immediately to stop using some models of Medisystems tubing with its Meridian machines and switch to other tubing from the same firm. FDA said Baxter notified hemodialysis centers Sept. 6.
``Although details are still sketchy, in the interest of patient safety, FDA wants to make certain that dialysis patients and the wider medical community are aware of these incidents,'' FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford said.
Baxter and Medisystems officials could not be reached. Baxter told the Chicago Tribune that it is not clear if the deaths were caused by the treatment or the underlying disease.
Iowa cites Insituform in workers' deaths
DES MOINES, IOWA - Insituform Technologies Inc. has been fined more than $800,000 by the Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Bureau for a July 8 incident in which two workers were killed and five others injured while on location in Des Moines.
The citations against the St. Louis firm include nine serious violations with proposed penalties of $38,250, and 11 willful violations totaling $770,000. IOSH cited lack of proper equipment, such as emergency respiratory protection, employees entering the work site without harnesses or retrieval equipment, and the absence of effective training for employees and supervisors. The violations also allege that the firm did not ensure proper use of personal protective equipment or continuous monitoring of active work areas.
``This is one of the largest total penalties we've ever issued,'' said Mary Bryant, an administrator with IOSH. The group has an informal conference with Insituform scheduled for Sept. 19.
Insituform said it will continue discussions with IOSH. The firm has 15 working days to dispute the matter.
Company officials maintain the firm has a good safety record and said in a news release: ``This accident and the tragic loss of two co-workers has affected everyone at Insituform. Across the country, our people have renewed their commitment to continually improving our workplace safety.''