Three hydrogen sulphide release incidents - issue 211
Dihydrogen sulphide (H2S), to use its proper name, is characterised by its strong, obnoxious smell which is detectable at extremely low concentrations in air. Even those with no scientific training or knowledge usually recognise it by its well-known odour of ‘rotten eggs’. What is not always so widely known, even in scientific and industrial circles, is that its toxicity is very similar to that of the much better known poison, hydrogen cyanide. This article describes three separate incidents in which H2S was accidentally released, two of which resulted in fatality.
The first incident, Antwerp, was also an example of over-reliance on suspect power supplies which would have been avoided by the use of a temporary electricity supply.
The second incident (Rhadereistedt) illustrated some of the hazards of confined spaces, whilst the third incident at Stuttgart demonstrated the dangers of carelessly mixing different chemicals.