Hazardous Material Case Study


Oxidizers and explosives have been used as weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). For this assignment, you are the lead incident commander for Star City Fire Department, which is responding to an explosion at the Regional Federal Building in downtown Star City. In preparing to respond to this incident, you noted that it appears to be eerily similar to the 1995 terrorist incident at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Information relevant to this case study incident is provided below.

Star City is a metropolitan city with a population of 750,000 people.

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The ambient temperature today at 3 pm was 75° F, with winds blowing at 10 mph from the northwest to the southeast.

  • The Regional Federal Building in Star City is located in a congested downtown area with an interstate freeway passing within 200 yards southwest of the Regional Federal Building.
  • Approximately 1,550 people work at or visit the Regional Federal Building on any given weekday.
  • The explosion incident at the Regional Federal Building occurred today (Wednesday) at 3:17 pm. There are 43 fatalities and 132 injuries resulting from this incident.
  • The building alarm to evacuate workers and visitors from the building was sounded immediately.
  • The Regional Federal Building, which does not have an onsite Emergency Response Team (ERT), has a Security Department of 10 professionals who handle routine security concerns and emergencies.
  • The fire department’s first responders arrived on location at 3:28 pm, and you assumed your lead incident command duties.
  • Assuming that the explosive blasting agent used for this Star City incident is ammonium nitrate/fuel oil (ANFO), address the questions below in your case study.
  • Describe the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) classification (e.g., DOT hazard class, UN number, shipping description, type of blasting agent) and the properties/hazards of the hazardous materials comprising ANFO.
  • Explain how you, as the lead incident commander, should respond to this Star City explosion incident. Although this is not a transportation incident, determine the appropriate Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) guide number for ANFO, and discuss what ERG information will help determine how to respond to this incident.

    Discuss how your emergency response actions would differ if this incident involved a dirty bomb comprised of dynamite and cesium-137 instead of ANFO. What are the acute radiation effects of a single whole-body dose of 4.2 Gy of cesium-137? List two reasons why terrorists have not yet used dirty bombs as WMDs.

    Chemistry of Some Explosives
    and Radioactive Materials
    Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VII
    Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
    2. Analyze chemical interactions as they relate to control of potential hazards.
    2.1 Determine the chemical interactions and associated hazards of some explosives and
    radioactive materials.
    6. Apply information resources commonly used in emergency response operations.
    6.1 Utilize information resources commonly used in emergency response operations involving
    explosives and radioactive materials.
    7. Examine widely used hazardous materials classification and labeling systems.
    7.1 Identify classification and labeling systems applicable to explosives and radioactive materials.
    Learning Outcomes
    Learning Activity
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 15, pp. 696–731
    Chapter 16, pp. 736–789
    Unit VII Case Study
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 15, pp. 696–731
    Chapter 16, pp. 736–789
    Unit VII Case Study
    Unit Lesson
    Chapter 15, pp. 696–731
    Chapter 16, pp. 736–789
    Unit VII Case Study
    Required Unit Resources
    Chapter 15: Chemistry of Some Explosives, pp. 696–731
    Chapter 16: Radioactive Materials, pp. 736–789
    Unit Lesson
    Unit VII will be about the last two classes of hazardous materials that are included in this course: explosives
    and radioactive materials.
    We all know what an explosive is, but how is it defined? For our purposes in this course, we will focus on the
    U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) explosive materials, specifically chemical explosives such as TNT
    (trinitroglycerin), ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil), etc. Thus, we are going to use DOT’s definition,
    which describes an explosive as a substance or a device that is designed to function by explosion, or that, by
    chemical reaction with itself, can function similarly, even if not designed to function by explosion (Meyer,
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Chemistry of Explosive Materials
    According to Meyer (2020), chemical explosives are components of the following:

    ammunitions used for sporting activities;
    charges implanted during the mining of ores, tunneling through mountains, etc.; and
    artillery and munitions during wartime to disable the enemy.
    Incidents associated with the above uses of explosives are uncommon. However, explosives are also being
    used as active components of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), such as the three suicide bombers who
    detonated explosives at the Brussels Airport and metro stations in 2016, killing 32 people. There is also the
    1995 Oklahoma bombing in which ANFO was used, killing 168 people and injuring 850 (Meyer, 2020).
    In the United States, the following agencies have some regulations or requirements applicable to explosives.

    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) requires persons producing, selling,
    transferring, purchasing, or storing explosives to obtain a federal explosive license (FEL).
    The Department of State and the Department of Commerce regulate the export and re-export of
    explosives. Licensees are authorized to export or re-export explosives only to certain countries
    identified by the department and consistent with the terms of the issued export license.
    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues regulations governing the security of highrisk chemical facilities, including any facility that possesses explosives. DHS also registers persons
    who operate facilities producing, selling, transferring and purchasing explosives.
    The Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) minimally requires the manufacturers,
    distributors, and importers of explosives to post the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) explosive
    pictogram on the labels of explosives in hazard class divisions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4, in addition to a
    signal word and appropriate hazard and precautionary statements. OSHA does not require the
    posting of any pictogram on the labels of packaging containing an explosive in hazard class divisions
    1.5 or 1.6.
    The general characteristics of explosives are listed below.

    Explosive substances can readily detonate or can be detonated.
    Explosive articles are manufactured items that contain explosive
    materials; see Table 15.1 for examples.
    Additional Information on Explosive Materials
    Detonation is the instantaneous decomposition of an explosive material
    characterized by the rapid passing of energy waves through the explosive
    material. Large amounts of gases and vapors are produced with high heat and
    pressure shock waves. Speed is higher than the speed of sound.
    Illustration of comic booklike dynamite sticks.
    (Nn555, n.d.)
    Detonation velocity is the speed of the energy wave. The detonation velocity is
    higher than the speed of sound, which is 1,250 ft/sec (Burke, 2003). On average, the detonation velocity of
    explosive material is 23,000 ft/sec (Meyer, 2020).
    Detonation temperature is the explosive’s detonation temperature.
    Brisance is the potential shattering power of the explosive.
    Deflagration is the chemical transformation of an explosive by rapid combustion; the speed is slower than the
    speed of sound.
    When an explosive detonates, the products of decomposition are carbon particulates (soot), carbon
    monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and nitrogen oxides, oxygen, and water vapor. Emergency responders
    should always acknowledge that explosives possess a high degree of hazard, including death (Meyer 2020).
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    The classification of explosives based on speed and sensitivity are listed below:

    high explosives or detonating explosives and
    low explosives or deflagrating explosives.
    Storing Explosives
    All applicable federal, state, and local regulations require that explosives be stored in magazines. A magazine
    is any building, room, or vessel used exclusively for receiving, storing, and dispensing explosives (Meyer,
    2020). There are five types of magazines, and they are listed and described on pages 706–707 of the
    textbook. Some specific regulations promulgated by the ATF are also listed in the textbook for your
    Transporting Explosives
    The DOT regulates the transportation of specific types of explosive articles and explosive substances listed in
    the Hazardous Materials Table. These explosives are divided into six divisions that form a continuum of
    decreasing hazard from 1.1 to 1.6. When the word forbidden appears in column 3 of the Hazardous Materials
    Table, the designation signifies a forbidden explosive, one whose transportation is prohibited by any mode.
    The DOT may permit the forbidden explosive to be transported if it has been desensitized, which means its
    ability to detonate has been reduced.
    Responding to Incidents Involving a Release of Explosives
    Under routine conditions, responding to an emergency incident involving explosives should be undertaken
    only by competent and experienced individuals who have received specialized training in the handling of
    explosives (Meyer, 2020).
    Combustible Dust
    Although combustible dust is not a DOT explosive material, it has explosion hazards that safety, fire, and
    environmental professionals must recognize. (See the Unit III Lesson for information on combustible dust and
    where additional information can be obtained.)
    Chemistry of Radioactive Materials
    When people hear the term radioactive, some will probably think of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
    plant incident in Japan or the Chernobyl disaster in Russia. Some may think of the atomic bomb dropped in
    Japan to end World War II. In these events, there was a release of radioactive materials. We will discover in
    this chapter that these events are associated with the occurrence of one or more nuclear processes. There
    are serious health risks associated with exposure to radioactive materials.
    According to Meyer (2020), to eliminate or minimize the impact of these risks in the United States, Congress
    delegated some regulatory responsibilities to the agencies listed below.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulates the civilian nuclear energy industry by licensing
    the construction and operation of the nation’s nuclear power plants.
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) oversees the research and development of new and creative
    means of reducing nuclear waste. The DOE also oversees the construction and operation of nuclear
    waste disposal sites and responds to releases of radioactive material from any source.
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes radiation exposure limits to protect
    public health. These limits apply to natural radiation and the radiation from spent radioactive materials
    in storage. The EPA also monitors the levels of radioactivity in air, precipitation, drinking water, and
    milk at 164 monitoring stations spread throughout the 50 states.
    OSHA establishes radiation-exposure limits that protect employees who use radioactive materials
    within the workplace that are not regulated by the NRC or DOE.
    The DOT ensures that shippers and carriers adopt procedures to eliminate or minimize the risks
    associated with transporting radioactive materials.
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Basic Information on Radioactive MaterialsUNIT x STUDY GUIDE
    Atomic Nuclei
    As discussed in Chapter 4, the nucleus of an atom contains protons and neutrons. Although the nuclei of all
    atoms of the same element have the same number of protons, they may have different numbers of neutrons.
    These nuclei are called isotopes. See pages 738–739 on the features of atomic nuclei.
    Modes of Radioactive Decay
    Most of you are familiar with these modes, which are listed below:

    alpha decay,
    beta decay, and
    gamma decay.
    Detection of Radioactivity
    Several radiation detection instruments, one of which is shown in this
    lesson, are commercially available. On page 749, there is also a picture
    of a handheld radiation detector that is commonly used by first-on-scene
    responders to identify the sources of beta and gamma radiation.
    Historical notes: Many of the terms associated with radioactivity, as you
    will find out, come from the early pioneers in radiation physics such as
    Marie Curie and Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. Roentgen discovered the
    basic properties of X-rays, the properties of ionizing radiation, and the
    possibility of using radiation in medicine (NDT Education Resource
    Center, n.d.). Curie was a physicist, a chemist, and a pioneer in the study
    of radiation who won the Nobel Prize in both physics and chemistry
    (Bagley, 2019). Radioactivity was first discovered in 1896 by Henri
    Becquerel (APS Physics, 2008). These discoveries, though, did not
    come without a price. Scientists learned that radiation was not only a
    source of energy and medicine, but it could also be a potential threat to
    human health if not handled properly.
    Geiger counter
    (Godruma, n.d.).
    Units of Radiation and Radiation Dose
    The intensity of a radioisotope is called its activity, and the activity per unit mass is called its specific activity
    (Meyer, 2020). Units of activity include curie and becquerel.
    Units of a radiation dose are listed below:

    radiation absorbed dose (rad),
    roentgen equivalent man (rem),
    gray, and
    Background radiation is the combination of ionizing radiation from natural and artificial sources in and around
    Earth. Every person is constantly exposed to cosmic radiation and other inescapable low-level ionizing
    radiation emitted from the naturally occurring radioisotopes. See Figure 16.6 of the textbook on the sources of
    background radiation.
    Radiation sickness is the combination of health effects resulting from short- or long-term exposure to
    radiation. See Table 16.3 of the textbook of acute radiation effects.
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Workplace regulations involving radiation exposure are discussed in Section 16.7
    indicated above, OSHA regulates employee exposure to radiation in the workplace
    Title for activities not
    addressed by the NRC or DOE.
    How Is Nuclear Power Generated?
    Nuclear energy is generated similar to a fossil-fueled power plant. Both heat water to produce steam that will
    drive the turbines to generate electricity. In a nuclear power plant, the heat is produced from the nuclear
    reaction called fission. In nuclear fission, neutrons are fired at the nucleus of a radioactive element (uranium235). The U-235 nucleus absorbs the neutrons and splits into smaller atoms and more neutrons. Some of the
    neutrons that are released then hit other atoms, which causes them to split and release more neutrons; this is
    called a chain reaction (World Nuclear Association, n.d.-b) This process, which occurs in a nuclear reactor,
    generates a significant amount of heat to create steam that drives the turbines to produce electricity. The
    fragments that are produced by individual fission events are called fission products.
    According to Meyer (2020), 435 nuclear power plants produce approximately 20% of electrical energy
    worldwide; 95 of the nuclear power plants operate within the United States, and most are approaching their
    projected operating lives of 40 years. During the next decade, 30 new plants are expected to be constructed,
    the first of which, Watts Bar Unit 2 in southeastern Tennessee, came online in 2016.
    According to the World Nuclear Association (n.d.-a), around 10% of the world’s electricity is generated by
    about 440 nuclear power reactors. France gets approxmately three quarters of its electric power from nuclear
    energy. Hungary, Slovakia, and Ukraine get more than half of their energy from nuclear, while Belgium,
    Sweden, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Finland, and the Czech Republic get one-third or more. The United
    States, United Kingdom, Spain, Romania, and Russia get approximately one-fifth of electricity from nuclear
    energy. Japan used to get more than one quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy and is expected to
    return to somewhere at that level in the near future.
    Notable nuclear power incidents include Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania; Chernobyl in Russia; and the
    recent Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.
    Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Middleton, PA
    (Gough, 2020)
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Transporting Radioactive Materials
    Stringent regulations apply to the transportation of radioactive material. The portion of these regulations most
    immediately applicable to emergency responders is summarized below.

    When shippers offer a radioactive material for transportation, it is first necessary to determine
    whether the DOT applies an exemption that is applicable to the potential consignment.
    The shippers determine the activity concentration and the total activity in the potential consignment
    and compare these values with those published at 49 C.F.R. § 173.436.
    The DOT regulations apply when the activity concentration and the total activity in the consignment
    exceed published values.
    Some radioisotopes are transported as hazardous substances within the meaning of the
    Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Section 6.2B). Examples of these are provided in Table 16.7, along with their reportable quantities (Meyer,
    For details on shipping descriptions, labeling, and marking, read Section 16.10 of the textbook.
    Responding to Radiation Incidents
    When radiation sources are located nearby, government regulations require the authorized regulatory body to
    warn individuals of their presence by posting signs. Emergency responders are also warned of the presence
    of radiation sources when they encounter these signs.
    According to Meyer (2020), at transportation mishap scenes, radiation sources are verified by the presence of
    the following components:

    the number 7 on the shipping paper,
    the word Radioactive and the number 7 on yellow-and-white labels or the word Fissile and the
    number 7 on the white-and-black labels that are affixed to packages, and
    the word Radioactive and the number 7 on the yellow-and-white placards that are affixed on bulk
    Once the presence of radioactive material has been verified, responders protect themselves by the
    implementation of three basic principles: shielding, time, and distance.
    Other Related Topics
    Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD)
    Meyer (2020) defines a dirty bomb as any conventional explosive device charged with a hazardous material
    that disperses into the environment as the explosive is detonated. This device is characteristic of the RDD.
    When a radiological dirty bomb is initially activated, the immediate area of the incident becomes contaminated
    with one or more radioisotopes. Following the dispersal of the radioactive material, the radioisotopes could
    diffuse through the air where currents could carry them and, in time, cause the radioactive material to become
    dispersed worldwide. It is for this reason that a radiological dirty bomb is also called a radiological dispersal
    device. Note that the detonation of a radiological dispersal device could never produce the immediate mass
    casualties or devastation that we associate with the detonation of nuclear weapons.
    Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas that occurs naturally and can cause cancer
    (EPA, n.d.-a). It is primarily an indoor air pollutant. Radon comes from the natural breakdown (radioactive
    decay) of uranium. It is found in igneous rock and soil and, in some cases, from well water. As radon decays,
    it releases radioactive byproducts that can be inhaled. According to the American Lung Association (n.d.),
    exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, after smoking.
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Protecting homes from radon gas by using depressurizing wells
    for buildings without the crawl space
    (Scatena, n.d.)
    Radon enters homes through cracks in walls, foundation floors, gaps in wall-to-wall joints, and other
    openings. You can learn more about the EPA’s radon zone map by visiting the webpage “EPA Map of Radon
    Zones Including State Radon Information and Contacts,” which has information on state radon and contacts
    (EPA, n.d.-b). The radon that enters the home is referred to as residential radon and consists primarily of
    radon-22 and radon-222, with half-lives of 54.5 seconds and 3.82 seconds, respectively (Meyer, 2020). The
    only way to know your level of exposure is by testing. There are test kits that are available through the EPA
    that you can use to check your homes for radon; access the test kits by visiting the webpage “Find a Radon
    Test Kit or Measurement and Mitigation Professional.” If your house has high levels of radon, there is a lot of
    information on mitigation measures that can be implemented.
    American Lung Association. (n.d.). Radon. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/radon
    APS Physics. (2008). This month in physics history: March 1, 1896: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity.
    APS News, 17(3). https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200803/physicshistory.cfm
    Bagley, M. (2019, June 26). Marie Curie: Facts & biography. Live Science.
    Burke, R. (2003). Hazardous chemistry for emergency responders (2nd ed.). Lewis.
    Godruma. (n.d.). Geiger counter. Device to meter radiation nuclear danger for safety or science. Vector.
    [Illustration]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/geiger-counter-device-to-meter-radiationnuclear-danger-safety-science-vector-illustration-image177606757
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials
    Meyer, E. (2020). Chemistry of hazardous materials (L. Mauerman, Ed.; 7th ed.).
    NDT Education Resource Center. (n.d.). The discovery of x-rays. https://www.ndeed.org/EducationResources/HighSchool/Radiography/discoveryxrays.htm
    Nn555. (n.d.). TNT dynamite [Illustration]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stockimage-vector-illustration-comic-book-like-dynamite-sticks-image29801146
    Scatena, F. (n.d.). How to protect our homes from radon gas with depressurizing wells for buildings without
    the crawl space-concept illustration [Illustration]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/how-toprotect-our-homes-radon-gas-depressurizing-wells-buildings-crawl-space-concept-illustration-howimage158439725
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.-a). EPA map of radon zones including state radon information
    and contacts. https://www.epa.gov/radon/find-information-about-local-radon-zones-and-state-contactinformation
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.-b). Radon. https://www.epa.gov/radon
    World Nuclear Association. (n.d.-a). How does a nuclear reactor work? https://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclearessentials/how-does-a-nuclear-reactor-work.aspx
    World Nuclear Association. (n.d.-b). Nuclear power in the world today. https://www.worldnuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/nuclear-power-in-the-world-today.aspx
    Learning Activities (Nongraded)
    Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit
    them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
    In order to access the following resources, click the links below.
    Review some of the key concepts from Chapter 15 by completing the Chapter 15 Practice Quiz (PDF version
    of the Chapter 15 practice quiz). You can attempt as many times as you wish. Access the Chapter 15 quiz.
    Review some of the key concepts from Chapter 16 by completing the Chapter 16 Practice Quiz (PDF version
    of the Chapter 16 practice quiz). You can attempt as many times as you wish. Access the Chapter 16 quiz.
    OSH 3308, Interactions of Hazardous Materials

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