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Adrian 04-23-2003 08:35 AM

I84 Cyanide Spill 4/22
I was on my way back from the city yesterday and I hear on the car radio tht I84 is closed both directions in the Danbury area and Hazchem teams are in doing cleanup.

This morning I get the whole story on NBC - seems a tractor-trailer loaded with cyanide rear-ended another truck and the stuff spilled all over the road. No fatalities but a couple of state troopers were taken to hospital for observation. Some fish kill has been reported but the DEP is hoping that "dilution will be the solution to polution". It is the only solution actually but it doesn't take much cyanide to kill a fish - or a human for that matter.

It amazes me that this stuff which is as lethal as enriched plutonium can be legally transported in bulk on a public highway in containers that are susceptible to crash damage.

I only hope that the cleanup has been effective - time will tell.

vinnyf 04-23-2003 12:06 PM

With the various state EPAs facing further budget cuts, I'm sure that the pertinent regulations will not be getting any stricter - the "bottom line" wins again:mad:
I'm ambivalent about the process of self regulation, but with the ongoing attacks on environmental policy, it may turn out to be useful, especially if there is independent oversight.
Meanwhile, as individuals (and a group) we'll just do what we can to keep the rivers and coasts clean for those who come after us ... and maybe catch a fish or two in the process.

BobK 04-24-2003 07:08 AM

Cyanide - the word that strikes fear....
No one bothered to tell what KIND of cyanide the spill was. (Has a lot to do with the danger... )

Was it a truck hauling wastes, or a truck hauling new chemicals? If it was the latter, clean-up would be simple, with zero after effects.

I would HOPE the agency responding knew how to treat it.

The various cyanide compounds are quickly and easily treated - of more importance is whether it was a metal-containing compound. The metals are much harder to remove, and have a detrimental and long term effect on rivers. It is important to remove these, as well as oxidizing and decomposing the cyanide.


Adrian 04-24-2003 07:40 AM


It was sodium cyanide in powder form. Used the stuff in an earlier career as an analytical chemist but in small quantities. The latest from the State teams is we'll have to "wait and see". Residents in the area have been warned to keep their children and animals away from any water near their homes until further tests have been caried out.

BobK 04-24-2003 09:04 AM

Cyanide treatment...
If it was in powder form (and dry), most of it could be swept up for disposal. Any residues can be treated with an alkaline solution of sodium hypochlorite ("Chlorox")solution, pH 9. That converts cyanide to cyanate.

This is followed by adjustment of pH to 7.2 to 7.7, and decomposition occurs quickly.

If you can't run pH adjustment, or don't have facilities to perform it, it can be destroyed by treatment with the same material, but at pH 8.5 - it is completely destroyed in 1 to 2 hrs.

The results? Carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

And chlorox isn't that tough to get ahold of.

(I've done this before!)


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