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Incident at Canberra Hospital

By soulman 6 June 2007 10

Win News reports that a large number of people were evacuated from the Canberra Hospital this afternoon due to the risk of unstable chemicals exploding. Apparently, a chemical became unstable in a lab where it was being used for testing.

Police, fire brigade (tankers, hazmat and B.A.S) and bomb squad attended.

Tonight, may have commented on a loud bang that may have been from the hospital. I heard it all the way in Conder. Well, Pickle went to take a look with his camera at 7:40 hoping to get us a scoop on whatever is happening. But alas, there was nothing to see. On the one hand, one must be glad that the hospital is apparently intact. But that was one loud bang. Who did it and with what?

[ED (Ntp) – IBN News now has a piece up on both this and the Canberra Centre fire.]

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Incident at Canberra Hospital
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soulman 1:27 am 10 Jun 07

wow, thanks for the info meconium!

Meconium 9:46 am 08 Jun 07

I just went over to have a look and it turns out there was no earthmoving involved – it must have exploded above ground (hence people hearing the bang several kilometres away).

A local woman walking her dog told me that something in the Pathology department had got wet that wasn’t supposed to, had formed shock-sensitive crystals, and there was a risk of explosion. The substance was taken out to the oval (open space, makes sense) and dozens of police, fire and bomb squad people showed up for this minor emergency.

I presume they were trying to burn the chemical slowly so as not to detonate it all at once, but it exploded anyway. From experience in the lab I know that there are many common chemicals (the IBN News page specifies “acid”) that must be kept away from moisture in order to avoid the production of shock-sensitive crystals. Perchloric acid is an example – it must be stored under a layer of oil with a stick of sodium in the jar, to avoid absorption of moisture from the air. The explosive substance was likely a crystalline form of this, or something similar.

Meconium 9:25 am 08 Jun 07

I was thinking it might be nitroglycerine, because that stuff is really unstable… it sounds to me like some really friction-sensitive substance, because that makes sense that they disposed of it here rather than driving it out of town (probably nobody wanted to be the driver). Nitroglycerine makes sense because it’s used in hospitals for heart conditions.

Still, someone should really let us know what happened rather than the riotact community simply gossiping and speculating about what went on…

caf 9:13 am 08 Jun 07

Probably someone accidentally mixed up a batch of nitroglycerine or similar.

soulman 12:08 am 08 Jun 07

As a matter of interest, does anyone know what the cricket pitch looks like now. Glowing green hold in the ground? A grave with half buried hazchem drums?

Meconium 12:00 am 08 Jun 07

I live about 150m from the hospital on the other side of the Garran oval. My sister said they dug up the cricket pitch, put a plastic tent over it, evacuated all cars parked nearby (probably to protect windows and windscreens), and detonated whatever it was a few metres underground, right in the middle of the oval. After detonation, my sister came outside and saw a huge cloud of dust around the oval.

Police, fire and presumably bomb professionals surrounded the area and made sure no civilians (including my sister) got close.

As a chemist and a local resident, I would sincerely like to know exactly what went on. At the time I wasn’t at home, but explosions as loud as this deserve to be explained to the public, in as much detail as possible.

If anyone knows who I can write to for an explanation, please include email addresses/phone numbers etc in your post.

soulman 11:04 pm 06 Jun 07

To clarify, I also heard a rumble. It was proceeded by a bang, a low pitched one more like a bowling ball being dropped in the lane… wow what a simile!

el 10:21 pm 06 Jun 07

Not a ‘bang’ from fireworks Mash – a huge, low-pitched rumble, and I felt it through the entire house. I’m several kilometres away.

soulman 10:06 pm 06 Jun 07

I only heard one bang. And it was around the same time others said they heard one in Woden If I could hear it in Conder, wow, that must be the mother of all fire crackers…. where can I buy one?

Mash 10:01 pm 06 Jun 07

I’m sure these ‘bangs’ heard throughout the city would have nothing to do with the thousands of fireworks around the place?!

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