UPDATED: Possible Toxic Gas Leak Reported at JPL

Firefighters find no leak of a hazardous form of arsenic.

UPDATE, Saturday, Aug. 18, 8:26 a.m.: LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE (CNS) - Firefighters alerted to a possible chemical leak at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge were unable to locate one Saturday.

Los Angeles County Firefighters responded to the JPL campus around 1:30 a.m. to assist the JPL Fire Department in investigating the reported leak, county fire dispatcher Ed Pickett said.

A JPL security officer said no evidence of a leak was found. He declined to say what prompted the leak investigation.

According to ABC7, a leak of arsine gas -- a potentially lethal form of arsenic -- was indicated.

PREVIOUSLY: A highly-toxic gas may have been accidentally released inside a room at the , 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Saturday morning.

Firefighters from station 82 in La Canada, as well as a hazmat crew from Burbank, were on scene some time after 1 a.m. after the possible leak of Arsine was reported in room 302, according to scanner reports.

It is unknown at this time how much may have been released, or how widespread it could be. It is unknown if evacuations were called because of the arsine leak. Fire fighters report no injuries.

This story will continue to be updated as information becomes available.

not Carl Peterson lll August 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
James, Your point was serious and valid. By the time I was done reading the thread,your original statement was taken over by late night humor. Mt comments had no real link to you, or directed toward you.
Stuart Clark August 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM
OK, but as a practical matter, what would you do if someone called and said there was a small leak of arsine gas at JPL? According to Wiki, at ~25ppm, a lethal exposure is about 30 minutes. Also, this gas is 2.5 times deanser that air which makes natural tansport of this gas from JPL to your house extremely unlikely unless you live at the bottom of the Arroyo. The real hazards would be to any JPL workers that were in the immediate vicinity.
Gary Edwards August 20, 2012 at 04:36 AM
sorry all. gas leak was on my "end". had a can of beans for dinner.
James Stoker August 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
If notified the public could be alerted as to what signs and symptoms to look for -- being heavier than air, this gas could move to and concentrate in any low lying area surrounding the lab. Notice that there are many things we don't know (and will likely never know) about this incident: 1) How much if any arsine gas was released. 2) Where on the lab the release took place (parts of the lab are above my house, and parts below...) 3) How much time elapsed between the release and the call for or completeion of work by hazmat units. (I'm betting it was more than 30 minutes...) 4) What steps will be taken to make certain no such release occurs in the future. I was at Caltech during the Whiitier narrows earthquake. A potential flourine gas leak after the quake forced immediate establishment of a safety perimeter and notification of both Caltech personnel and nearby neighbors. News reports and comments appearing here make it seem doubtful that any public notifications took place -- even the Sherriff's Department was in the dark. At Public Safety Commission meetings JPL representatives assured the community that detailed safety plans were in place which included notification of the public. Perhaps these plans were not followed? There are both human and animal populations immediately adjacent downhill/downwind from JPL -- LACFD Camp 2, the Flintridge Riding Academy, and the Rose Bowl Riders facility and large numbers of school students during the day.
Bill Barlen August 21, 2012 at 02:44 AM
I have worked with arsine and arsine mixtutes for almost 50 years. It is unlikely that JPL uses pure arsine. In clinders of mixtures the danger would be inside I.e. the storage area. Once ouside the dilution effect would reduce the concentration in the venting plume that even the best detection instrumentation could probabky not detecg anythig at points as close as 100 yards.


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