Hydrochloric Acid Spills in New York State - Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) 1992-1997

Table 1: Summary of Accidental Hydrochloric Acid Releases
New York HSEES, 1/1/1992 - 12/31/97
Number of hydrochloric acid releases 129
Number of transportation events road -29
rail - 5
water - 1
Number of fixed facility events 94
Range of amounts released1 1 - 5,000 gals.
1 - 6,000 lbs.
Number of releases with hazmat response 72 (56%)
Number of events involving injury 25 (19%)
Number of injured persons and fatalities 144
Maximum number of persons injured in one event 43
Number of events involving an evacuation 30 (23%)
Number of persons evacuated >4,6902
Maximum number of persons evacuated in one event 1,400
Duration of all evacuations (person-hours) >59,5553
1A release may be reported in pounds or in gallons, not both. For spills reported in gallons, the median was 25 gallons and the average was 265 gallons. For spills reported in pounds, the median was 97 pounds and the average was 901 pounds. A 38% solution of hydrochloric acid weighs 9.9 pounds per gallon.

2 In some events, the evacuation time or number of persons evacuated was unknown and could not be estimated from available information.

3 Person-hours is calculated by multiplying the number of persons evacuated by the length of the evacuation and summing the results for each event.


 
Table 2: Locations of 94 Reported Hydrochloric Acid Events at Fixed Facilities*
New York HSEES, 1/1/92-12/31/1997
Type of Location** Number of Events
Transportation in fixed facility 2
Process vessel 10
Piping 38
Material handling 14
Storage above ground 16
Dump/waste area 5
Other*** 10
Unknown 5
Total 100
* 35 hydrochloric acid events were transportation-related and did not occur at fixed facilities.

** Maximum of two locations per event.

*** Emission stack; parking lot; student's back pack in school; municipal garage; residential garage; swimming pool area (3 events); restaurant; vandalized abandoned school laboratory.


 
Table 3: Medical Treatment Provided to Persons Injured During Accidental Hydrochloric Acid Releases
New York HSEES, 1/1/92-13/31/97
Medical Treatment Number of Injured Persons
Employee General
Public
Responder Unknown Total
Treated at scene 5 2 0 9 16
Transported to hospital for observation 0 4 0 0 4
Transported to hospital, treated and released 62 44 6 3 115
Transported to hospital and admitted 5 1 0 0 6
Seen by private MD within 24 hours 0 0 0 0 0
Fatality* 3 0 0 0 3
Total 75 51 6 12 144
* All 3 fatalities were due to trauma in one motor vehicle accident.

 
Table 4: Injuries Following Reported Hydrochloric Acid Events
New York HSEES, 1/1/92-13/31/97
Type of Injury Injured Persons
Employee General
Public
Responder Unknown Total*
Chemical burns 3 2 1 0 6
Dizziness/CNS symptoms 12 5 0 1 18
Headache 11 3 0 0 14
Heat stress 0 0 1 0 1
Eye irritation 6 3 0 8 17
Respiratory irritation 51 39 5 10 105
Skin irritation 3 0 2 0 5
Nausea or vomiting 9 16 0 1 26
Thermal burns 0 0 0 0 0
Trauma 5 0 0 0 5
Other** 12 7 0 0 19
Total injuries*** 112 75 9 20 216
* The injured persons (144) belong to the following categories: employees (75), general public (51), responder (6), and unknown (12).

** Other includes coughing, chest pain, heart palpitations, asthma, light-headedness, shortness of breath, sore throat, bad taste in mouth.

*** The total number of injury types exceeds the total number of injured persons because some people had more than one injury.


 
Table 5: Causes of Accidental Hydrochloric Acid Releases: Number of Events, Injuries and Evacuations
New York HSEES, 1/1/1992 - 12/31/1997
Cause Number
of
Events
Number
of
Events
with
Injuries
Number
of
Injured
Persons
Number
of
Events
with
Evacuations
Number
of
People
Evacuated
Evacuation
Time
(person-
hours)
Equipment failure - total 49 2 3 6 259 756
Line leak: includes valve leaks within line 28 0 0 2 63 67
Tank/container leak 11 1 1 3 126 549
Otheraa 10 1 2 1 70 140
Human error - total 39 13 124 20 3,521 54,219
Break or drop container 10 2 9 6 b 394 b 708 b
Improper disposal 2 1 2 0 0 0
Improper mixing 14 7 68 11 c 2,698 c 51,768 c
Overfill or delivery error 9 3 45 3 d 429 d 1,743 d
Process error (valve left open, etc.) 4 0 0 0 0 0
Transportation 35 10 17 4 e >910 e >4,580 e
Fire 1 0 0 0 0 0
Unknown 5 0 0 0 0 0
Total 129 25 144 30 >4,690 >59,555
(a) Other: power failure (2 events); process failure (1 event with 2 injuries and the evacuation of 70 people for 2 hours); pump leak (2 events); pump surge; clogged sewage line (2 events); and unknown (2 events).

(b) In one event, 275 people were evacuated from a school for 2 hours after a student dropped a bottle of acid.

(c) The two major events were: 980 people evacuated from a school for 22 hours, and 1,400 students and faculty evacuated until the next morning (21 hours).

(d) In one event, a two block area was evacuated for four hours when hydrochloric acid and sodium hypochlorite were released during the delivery of the acid. Using 1990 Census data, we estimated that 398 persons were evacuated from nearby residences.

(e) In one event, 700 people were evacuated from a school for 5 hours, and in a second event, 150 people were evacuated from their homes for 6 hours. In some events the evacuation time or number of persons evacuated was unknown and could not be estimated from available information.


 
Table 6:
Injuries and Evacuations following Accidental Hydrochloric Acid Releases at Various Facilities
New York HSEES, 1/1/1992 - 12/31/1997
Facility Type Number
of
Events
Number
of
Events
with
Injuries
Number
of
Injured
Persons
Number
of
Events
with
Evacuations
Number
of
People
Evacuated
Evacuation
Time
(person-
hours)
Manufacturing - Total 60 5 51 10 673 2,359
Chemical a 33 3 48 4 401 1,599
Electrical parts 2 0 0 0 0 0
Metals 13 2 3 3 108 216
Medical/pharmaceutical 2 0 0 0 0 0
Photographic supplies 4 0 0 1 8 8
Other b 4 0 0 2 156 536
Research and Development 2 0 0 0 0 0
School 12 3 19 8 c 2,787 c 52,126 c
Transportation - Total 35 10 17 4 >910 >4,580
Road 29 10 17 3 d >850 d >4,400 d
Rail 5 0 0 1 60 180
Water 1 0 0 0 0 0
Wastewater Treatment 3 0 0 1 1 1
Other e 19 7 57 7 319 489
Total 129 25 144 30 >4,690 >59,555
(a) In one event, a 2 block area was evacuated for four hours when hydrochloric acid and sodium hypochlorite were released during the delivery of the acid. Using 1990 Census data, we estimated that 398 persons were evacuated from nearby residences.

(b) Other manufacturing facility types were cheese, specialty federal, textile (61 people evacuated for 1 hour), and wine (95 people evacuated for 5 hours).

(c) The major events were: 980 people evacuated for 22 hours; 275 people evacuated for 2 hours; and 1,400 persons evacuated for 21 hours.

(d) In one event, 700 people were evacuated for 5 hours; in a second event, 150 people were evacuated for 6 hours; and in a third event, an unknown number of people were evacuated for two hours. In some events the evacuation time or number of persons evacuated was unknown and could not be estimated from available information.

(e) Other = parking lot, residence (2), apartment building, swimming pool (2), retail hardware (2), television repair shop, hotel, restaurant, salt plant, loading dock, landfill, sanitation truck, airport, utility company, and unknown (2).