Skip to comments.Tianjin Blasts: Rains Could Turn Sodium Cyanide into Deadly Hydrogen Cyanide Gas
Posted on 08/17/2015 6:23:40 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Tianjin Blasts: Rains Could Turn Sodium Cyanide into Deadly Hydrogen Cyanide Gas
By Mugdha Variyar
| Updated: August 17, 2015 10:58 IST
The woes for residents in China's Tianjin port city are far from over following the deadly explosion last week as the exposed sodium cyanide has the potential to release the lethal hydrogen cyanide if it rains in the region.
Sodium cyanide, which is in a solid state in a powder form, releases the deadly hydrogen cyanide when it comes in contact with water, and environmental experts have raised an alarm of this happening as storms approaching the region could bring rains to Tianjin, NBC news reported.
Hydrogen Cyanide is a lethal gas that can interfere with the body's ability to use oxygen, leading to death.
(Excerpt) Read more at ibtimes.co.in ...
I think ammonia is the only thing to neutralize cyanide. Ammonia itself is a dangerous gas that can kill in seconds, so the solution can be as bad as the problem.
What a horrible situation of the residents. Chinese business and government doesn’t really care except for the fact they lose face and a token CEO might be executed.
Some 35 years ago, I was a graduate student in chemistry. One day we had a water leak right over the chemical stockroom. The chairman evacuated everybody from the building. This crazy old fellow, Dr. Cantrell, an organic chemistry professor, walked back into the building. He came out and announced that it did not smell like almonds so that it was safe to go in. It took me a while to realize what he had done, he went into the stockroom and took a deep breath trying to identify the presence of hydrogen cyanide. We had know he was crazy before this, but now we were positive!
Cyanide can be neutralized with sodium hydroxide or a combination of sodium hydroxide and sodium perchlorate (bleach). It is important to keep it alkaline to avoid liberating hydrogen cyanide gas. Simple NaOH works well, since it needs no catalyst. It is best to keep a good amount of sodium thiosulfate on hand in case there is anyone exposed to cyanide. Low level exposures can still be deadly, it just takes a while. Some low level exposure symptoms are mistaken as a case of the flu.
I have worked in some plants that use cyanide in their processes. This information is from safety training related to working with, around, and handling cyanide related chemicals.
How deadly would this cloud be?
Are we talking a little gas or will it generate gas-chamber levels?
The description news reports seem to suggest that, if released indoors, it is of gas-chamber level.
Didn’t something similar happen in the Union Carbide spill in India back in ‘83?
Thank you for relating that delightful story about Dr. Cantrell. I hope he lived out the rest of his academic career with similar success, to the benefit of his colleagues and students.
Sodium cyanide, NaCN, is water-soluble solid.
It releases Hydrogen Cyanide, NCN, as a gas when exposed to an acid. That is what the gas chamber in California used. Dropped Sodium cyanide into a pail of hydrochloric acid which produced Hydrogen Cyanide, killing the occupants of the chamber.
A hydrogen cyanide concentration of 3500 ppm (about 3200 mg/m3) will kill a human in about 1 minute.
Opps. HCN not NCN.. damn fat fingers.
The date of the Bhopal leak was Dec 3, 1984.
It was one of the worst industrial accidents known to have occurred, at that time.
It doesn’t appear to be similar, in that in Tianjin, there is seemingly no “chemical plant” leak involved, but there is a major port/storage area of huge quantities of a multitude of dangerous chemicals, awaiting shipment.
In Bhopal, it wasn’t cyanide.
I defer to other posters more familiar with dangerous industrial chemicals, to determine any similarities.
Bhopal, India was caused by 30 tons on methyl isocyanate. That is similar to what Tianjin is facing... But, probably not as bad.
I used to make NaCN. I dug out our handling brochure. Peroxide and Hypochlorite CAN be used as neutralizers... But, only in dilute forms. If contacted with concentrated NaCN, they’re both very bad news.
Basically... On a scale this size? I think the best they could do would be to evacuate, and spread some weak caustic soda ash over all the potentially contaminated areas. They must keep the water basic.... Even just a little.
God help them. If not handled properly, this has the potential to be catastrophic.
Material Safety Data Sheets are your friend.
Dang! This disaster just keeps getting worse.
They are stored right next to the HAZMAT level A suits locker.
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