Hydrogen fluoride is one of the many waste chemicals sent to the Huntington Wastewater Treatment Plant by Special Metals/Huntington Alloys, according to an EPA Waste Management file. The plant began receiving HF as early as 1987 and it has continued at least through 2010, the records show.
What is HF? It’s so dangerous that contact burns your skin. Whether you survive depends upon your health, concentration, length of exposure and other factors.
The gas was one of many that Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Worker, Jeff Walburn, was exposed to when he stood guard during the cleaning of high assey tubes that contained uranium and other radioactive matter.
Hydrogen fluoride activates “upon contact with moisture, including tissue” becoming hyrdrofluoric acid which requires immediate medical attention upon exposure, according to the Center for Disease Control and other sources.
Walburn described the 1994 scenario under which he was burned and nearly died, due to pipe leaks at the PGDP.
“When the 26 caustic gasses came in contact with these cracked plugged lines they can eat away the product and leak through the crack pushed out by high barimetric pressure. So…. the gasses are everything from chlorotrifluoride to hydrocloric and hydrofluoric and sulfuric acid. with high assay product . It don’t take much! The logs also revealed the prescense of Gamma radiation.Jeff Walburn suffered his injury in 1994 in Piketon when uranium turned solid clogged piping. Clinging to the walls of the pipe, this area became a “slow cooker” which emitted high radiation energy neutrons. Management used a secret mixture (without informing guards or employees) that contained “highly corrosive and toxic chemicals” for converting the clogged solid uranium to a gas.
Guard Walburn had this secret mixture touch his hands and face, which turned red. He had difficulty breathing. The plant dispensary treated him with ice and alcohol then ordered him back to work.
In a May 19, 2011 interview with WBNS-TV, Columbus, Ohio, Walburn stated: “There were 26 chemicals shooting into a cylinder above our position. As we were talking, the atmosphere changed. It was like we were being stung all over. I was spitting out granulated pieces of lung. My hair came out. I was burnt clear through.”
Walburn told HNN that the chemicals created hydrogen fluoride. “When ingested it burnt you completely”, he said. Others included chlorine trifluoride, hydrofluoric acid, sulfuric acid and other “secret chemicals”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: HNN has learned that a non uranium materials HF related accident occurred in Huntington after the Walburn accident in Piketon.
“Paul Walton and I had uptake. There were argon grammagraphs that went off that day [in 1994] as well, denoting the presence of Gamma Radiation,” Walburn said.
After he got off work, his wife took him to Southern Ohio Medical Center. A doctor there called the “poison control center” and was told “admit the man at once as he was in great danger.”
Another extremely dangerous chemical, Molybdemum trioxide was sent from the Alloys plant to the Sanitary Board for Waste Treatment from at least 1989 to 2010 per EPA records. First aid for exposure to this chemical from the eyes to ingestion is described below:
First Aid EYES: First check the victim for contact lenses and remove if present. Flush victim’s eyes with water or normal saline solution for 20 to 30 minutes while simultaneously calling a hospital or poison control center. Do not put any ointments, oils, or medication in the victim’s eyes without specific instructions from a physician. IMMEDIATELY transport the victim after flushing eyes to a hospital even if no symptoms (such as redness or irritation) develop.
SKIN: IMMEDIATELY flood affected skin with water while removing and isolating all contaminated clothing. Gently wash all affected skin areas thoroughly with soap and water. If symptoms such as redness or irritation develop, IMMEDIATELY call a physician and be prepared to transport the victim to a hospital for treatment.
INHALATION: IMMEDIATELY leave the contaminated area; take deep breaths of fresh air. If symptoms (such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or burning in the mouth, throat, or chest) develop, call a physician and be prepared to transport the victim to a hospital. Provide proper respiratory protection to rescuers entering an unknown atmosphere. Whenever possible, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) should be used; if not available, use a level of protection greater than or equal to that advised under Protective Clothing.
INGESTION: Some heavy metals are VERY TOXIC POISONS, especially if their salts are very soluble in water (e.g., lead, chromium, mercury, bismuth, osmium, and arsenic). IMMEDIATELY call a hospital or poison control center and locate activated charcoal, egg whites, or milk in case the medical advisor recommends administering one of them. Also locate Ipecac syrup or a glass of salt water in case the medical advisor recommends inducing vomiting. Usually, this is NOT RECOMMENDED outside of a physician’s care. If advice from a physician is not readily available and the victim is conscious and not convulsing, give the victim a glass of activated charcoal slurry in water or, if this is not available, a glass of milk, or beaten egg whites and IMMEDIATELY transport victim to a hospital. If the victim is convulsing or unconscious, do not give anything by mouth, assure that the victim’s airway is open and lay the victim on his/her side with the head lower than the body. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. IMMEDIATELY transport the victim to a hospital. (NTP, 1992) http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/8862