Emergencies involving dangerous chemicals have resulted in at least 156 Maryland hospitalizations and six deaths since 2001, according to information available through a new interactive feature on baltimoresun.com.
Chemical safety has been the subject of heightened public awareness following the explosions of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas and a derailed CSX cargo train in Rosedale. This week, the transparency site muckrock.com released national data on such incidents, provided to it by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
Maryland has been the site of 102 chemical accidents in the past 12 years, many of which have been covered extensively by The Baltimore Sun. In releasing the data to muckrock, the chemical board made clear that it was releasing only events that had received some type of media coverage.
In Maryland, the government lists nine chemical accidents in or involving schools, for instance.
In September of 2009, Corkran Middle School in Glen Burnie was evacuated and 18 students hospitalized after fumes from roof adhesive and aluminum roof coating entered the school when the ventilation system was accidentally turned on.
The May 28 train derailment in Rosedale, which seriously injured one person, is not included on the list. A chemical board official said some chemical incidents — those involving transportation, for example — are generally logged by other agencies.
The most recent incident in the national data is a chemical leak that occurred on May 18 at a Minnesota swimming school.
The highest number of hospitalizations in Maryland occurred in October 2007, when 35 people were taken for medical care following a chemical spill at a medical products plant in Elkton. Hazmat employees responded to the plant after a half-gallon container of heptane and butanol fell from a low shelf and the top broke off.