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OK that smells

10 February 2019 - Industrial accidents

Scary moment there on Saturday morning for a section of the Dutch population roughly living between the centre of the country and the north-east, a 150 km by 50 km stretch. (Link). For eye witnesses I had to look no further than one of my sisters who went into a panic because of a] a distinct gas smell and b] the national disaster alert app going into overdrive (link) Other nose witnesses complained of a rubber smell and some nausea was reported and some vomiting took place. And the cause? The overheating of a single chemical storage unit. And almost empty because the overheating took place after cleaning it. Must have been some chemical substance. It was identified by the news media as an additive for lubricants used in gear boxes, more specifically something called Petrolad (link). But what is it! Petroload is of course a trade name and journalists can be lazy. The only chemical data sheet this blog was able to find was on Petrolad 9533 and in Spanish, it lists as main component zinc bis(O,O-bis(2-ethylhexyl))-bis-(dithiophosphate) but from there it was easy to find a whole lot of information on commercially available zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate lubricant additives for example here. Their purpose is in anti-corrosion and anti-oxidation. We can imagine dithiophosphates smell a lot when burned, myself I decided to spend Saturday morning in bed and therefore missed out on all the excitement.