By Gregory Hale
It all started in 2007 when there was a fatal reactive chemical accident at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville, FL.

As a result of the ensuing investigation, the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) called on AIChE to work with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) to include reactive hazard awareness in college chemical engineering curriculum. AIChE proposed changes, which ABET approved in October 2011, to require proficiency in not just reactive chemical hazards but in all chemical process hazards among a broad range of engineering disciplines.

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CSB Chairperson Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso was at the AIChE Spring Meeting in Houston Monday to commend the organization and to present them with a certificate of recommendation. “We applaud AIChE. They went above our recommendations,” he said.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional association of more than 45,000 members.

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“If future chemical engineers are given the proper educational tools, they will be able to more fully comprehend and better manage the hazards in a chemical manufacturing process,” Moure-Eraso said.

The CSB final report into the accident at T2 Laboratories concluded employees did not recognize all of the potential hazards when designing their process for making a gasoline additive. The employees had little to no reactive chemistry experience, though one of them had a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. The report therefore called for improving the education of chemical engineering students on reactive chemical hazards. The explosion and fire on December 19, 2007, killed four T2 employees and injured four others. In addition, 28 people working at nearby businesses suffered injuries when building walls and windows blew in. Some of those businesses never recovered and shutdown permanently and the blast sent debris up to a mile away damaging buildings within a quarter-mile of the facility.

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