The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Korean Hydrofluoric Acid Accident

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, November 06, 2012

There have been plenty of incidents recently where fire officers responding to fire’s have poorly positioned fire apparatus resulting in loss of the fire trucks and in some cases loss of life.

But toxic gas releases can be just as deadly - as highlighted by the CCTV footage shown below.

To watch the footage, click here

The incident shows how anhydrous hydrofluoric acid (HF) was released from the liquid valve as two workers were on top of a truck mounted tank preparing to connect the ISO Tank for offloading.

They accidently fully opened the quarter turn valve.

About eight tons of HF was released into the atmosphere.

Five people including the two workers on top of the ISO tank perished.  two Another two workers at ground level for pump repair and one officer at an office building close to tank lorry also died.

Eighteen emergency responders, workers, and a news reporter ended-up in the hospital, and almost 3,000 villagers from two villages downwind of the facility were treated for irritation and exposure.
Some pre-report key issues in my mind are:
1.      Both workers had no chemical protective clothing or SCBA;

2.      Emergency response equipment/systems to mitigate the leak were inadequate;

3.      Emergency Responders were not aware of the treatment for HF;

4.      Calcium Gluconate was not readily available; and

5.      Valving on the ISO should be reviewed.
This has been reported to be the worst chemical accident in Korean history.

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