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19937 Chemical accident in USA with tetrahydrofuran (thf)
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General accident information
Class/Quality * * *
Year 2002
Summary Students were working with tetrahydrofuran in
Chemical engineering laboratory of university when
Runaway chemical reaction occurred causing release
Of water, evacuation and 2 casualties
Country USA
Chemicals Tetrahydrofuran (thf), Water
Cause Unknown-cause
Fatalities/Injuries 0 / 2
Occurrences or events Chemical reaction, Clean-up, Damage, Evacuation,
Explosion, Fire, Fire fighting/Emergency response, Human-operations,
Release, Run-away-reaction, Safety-measures, Traffic-interruption
Full accident information 
download accident report Click here to view a document containing the full accident information

Date : 2002 0910

An explosion that injured two graduate students at an university sent water from a damaged sprinkler cascading through classrooms. At least part of the building would be closed. A building was evacuated and closed after the accident occurred about 1000 hours in a chemical engineering lab on the third floor. The injured doctoral students were working with a small beaker of tetrahydrofuran, a solvent, when a runaway chemical reaction caused a flash explosion. Other people in the room were not hurt.
Both students walked to the campus health center about a block away. One student suffered significant chemical burns. He was taken to a medical center, where he was in satisfactory condition. The other student had minor injuries and was treated and released by the campus health center.
The small blast was fully contained by the fume hood above the lab workspace, but the fire set off the sprinkler system and something knocked a sprinkler head off a pipe in the laboratory???s ceiling. Water poured through the building for about 1/hour and nine classrooms that seat about 530 students were affected.
No damage estimate was immediately available. The east half of the building would reopen the same day, but the west side would remain closed until cleanup was finished. An avenue was blocked by fire trucks and ambulances for about 1/hour. The closed building is the home of chemical engineering and materials science and contains offices and labs for that department and classrooms used by many other departments. Students receive extensive training before they can work in the third-floor laboratories. Tetrahydrofuran is a colourless liquid described as highly flammable in safety guidelines compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. It may become explosive when exposed to air.

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