IFIN Bulletin #319: Fluoride Release Leads to Evacuation of Texas Community

Yesterday, July 9, an explosion occured at a Texas oil refinery which resulted in the release of an unspecified, but potentially large amount of hydrogen fluoride. According to the article which appeared in today's Corpus Christi Caller Times, a seven block area northwest of the plant was soon evacuated after winds blew the HF gas in a northwest direction. (See article below).

The explosion, which occured at the Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Refinery, helps confirm some of the concerns expressed in a recent report by the Good Neighbor Project for Sustainable Industries which warned of the hazards of using hydrogen fluoride in the oil refining industry < see http://gnp.enviroweb.org/hfexec.htm >.

According to the GNP,

"The unpublicized usage of deadly hydrofluoric acid at half of all refineries is endangering refinery communities...The environmental hazards of HF as used at refineries have to do with the high volumes utilized, the potential for high temperatures and pressures to be involved in a release, and the tendency of HF, once released to the environment, to form deadly gas clouds that do not easily diminish...This makes it an extremely dangerous material to be utilized at refineries in highly populated areas. The danger posed is thought by many experts to be as severe as the accident in Bhopal, India in which thousands were killed at a Union Carbide chemical plant in 1984."

Ironically, the evacuation occuring in the Texas community is not the only fluoride-induced evacuation mentioned lately in the news. For just over a week ago, Russian television discussed a government-financed resettlement program (the first ever of its kind in Russia) being implemented for victims of hydrogen fluoride emissions emanating from a large aluminum smelter.

"Hydrofluoric acid (HF)," according to a diagram published in today's Caller times article , "can burn through glass or concrete. Fluoride ions are absorbed through the skin, destroying tissue until they are sequestered in the bones. HF damage causes severe, long-term pain and slow healing burns and can be deadly. Significant delays between exposure and symptom onset may occur."

For those who would like to learn more about hydrogen fluoride and fluoride air pollution, visit http://www.fluoridealert.org/hydrogen.fluoride.htm & http://www.fluoridealert.org/f-pollution.htm

Michael Connett Fluoride Action Network

Did you know?

* According to the EPA's 1998 Toxic Release Inventory, hydrogen fluoride is the sixth most emitted air pollutant in the US.

* Hydrogen fluoride was implicated in two of the worst air pollution disasters of the twentieth century (Meuse Valley, Belgium, 1930; and Donora, PA, 1948). Read about these two incidents at http://www.fluoridealert.org/meuse.htm & http://www.fluoridealert.org/donora.htm

see also:

Corpus Christi Caller Times

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Workers monitor area for gas release http://www.caller.com/2001/july/10/today/localnew/4915.html