Laboratory samples after chemical accident in Oestrich-Winkel

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Hessian state laboratory examines food samples after chemical accident in Oestrich-Winkel

The chemical accident in a foam factory in Oestrich-Winkel in mid-August had spread terror and concern among the citizens of the small community in the Rheingau (Hesse). They feared long-term exposure to released pollutants. New laboratory tests have now shown that no residues of the toxic tolylene diisocyanate (TDI) can be found in locally grown food.

The Hessian State Laboratory examined twelve food samples from the private gardens in the immediate vicinity of the accident site of the chemical accident for TDI and its degradation products. All laboratory samples were negative, the official announcement. The citizens of Oestrich-Winkel can therefore breathe a sigh of relief. A longer-term exposure to the released toxins is obviously not to be expected.

Twelve food samples examined after the chemical accident Within a few days after the chemical accident in Oestrich-Winkel "an analytical method for determining the tolylene diisocynate (TDI) released from a manufacturer's tank was established in the Hessian state laboratory," the state laboratory announced. "With our sensitive test method, we have so far tested a total of twelve food samples for TDI and its degradation products, and all of this with a negative result," emphasized the director of the Hessian state laboratory, Professor Dr. Hubertus Brunn, in Gießen. "A sample of cucumbers, nectarines, tomatoes, walnuts, lemons and pears as well as six samples of Riesling grapes" were checked by the state laboratory. Fruit, vegetables and nuts came from private gardens in the immediate vicinity of the scene of the accident. The grapes were taken by wine inspectors from the state laboratory from various vineyard plots in Oestrich-Winkel, which were in the main wind direction at the time of the chemical accident.

Relief given the results of the Hessian State Laboratory "If the fabrics had arrived here, we would have found them," said the Director of the Hessian State Laboratory. The negative test results are therefore evidence that the toxins have not been introduced. "In order to exclude the last possible risk for consumers," "in addition to the samples already examined, a few soil samples are expected to be analyzed shortly," explained Brunn. In view of the laboratory results to date, "these examinations are, however, rather of a theoretical nature." The mayor of the Oestrich-Winkel municipality in the Rheingau, Paul Wiemann (CDU), was quite relieved by the current report from the state laboratory.

Highly toxic chemical related to hydrocyanic acid released In the chemical accident in Oestrich-Winkel, the toxic chemical TDI first escaped from a safety valve on Monday 13 August during a charging process. Apparently, water had entered the system during the production process and had caused an uncontrolled thermal reaction. The resulting gas was then released through the safety valve. A gas cloud formed, which the fire brigade bound with water for several hours. In the coming hours, however, the substance in the affected tank apparently continued to react, causing an explosion in the early Tuesday morning that blew the lid of the chemical tank off. The chemical isocyanate, which is related to highly toxic hydrocyanic acid, was released. A substance that, according to Greenpeace, causes "cough, shortness of breath, runny nose and eye irritation". In high concentrations, it can even be fatal. As a precautionary measure, 26 people were treated in hospital because of possible contact with the toxin, but were released relatively quickly. (fp)

Image: Matthias Preisinger /

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