Dow Chemical confirms hydrogen cyanide release near Houston

Dow Chemical Co. officials Thursday confirmed the accidental release of a small amount of deadly hydrogen cyanide at its subsidiary Hampshire Chemical Corp.�s Deer Park, Tex., chemical complex on the Houston Ship Channel.


By the OGJ Online Staff


HOUSTON, Mar. 8
�Dow Chemical Co. officials Thursday confirmed the accidental release of a small amount of deadly hydrogen cyanide at its subsidiary Hampshire Chemical Corp.�s Deer Park, Tex., chemical complex on the Houston Ship Channel.

The release occurred at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday when an �uncontrolled reaction� occurred at the start of a glycine manufacturing process, a Dow representative told OGJ Online.

The resulting buildup of pressure caused a safety disk to rupture as designed to avoid greater damage to the container, company officials said. A mixture of hydrogen cyanide and glyconitrile was vented through the opening into the atmosphere.

Hydrogen cyanide is an acutely poisonous gas that is sometimes compressed and used to kill rodents and insects aboard ship and insects in trees. Glyconitrile is described as a colorless oily liquid that can form cyanide in the body.

However, there were no injuries or major damage as a result of the accident, said Dow officials. Only minute traces of the gas were measured �in the parts per million range� at the plant fence line after the accident, reducing to zero-level measurements by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Dow representative said.

She said the release was reported to the Texas National Resource Conservation Commission, the state�s lead environmental agency. The cause of the mishap is under investigation.

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