Slow-mo explosion of Picric Acid at Meadows Field – Video

Source: KERO Bakersfield, CA

According to KERO:

Kern County Public Health’s Hazmat team was called to the Kern County Special Waste with Sheriff Bomb Squad assessing hazardous chemical after Picric acid, a hazardous chemical, was found at Kern County Special Waste Facility today.

The Picric acid was disposed by incineration in safe location near Meadows Field at about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Picric acid is the chemical compound formally called 2,4,6-trinitrophenol. This yellow crystalline solid is one of the most acidic phenols and is vinylogous to nitric acid (Wikipedia).

Modern safety precautions recommend storing picric acid wet. Dry picric acid is relatively sensitive to shock and friction, so laboratories that use it store it in bottles under a layer of water, rendering it safe. Glass or plastic bottles are required, as picric acid can easily form metal picrate salts that are even more sensitive and hazardous than the acid itself. Industrially, picric acid is especially hazardous because it is volatile and slowly sublimes even at room temperature. Over time, the buildup of picrates on exposed metal surfaces can constitute a grave hazard.[17]

Picric acid gauze, if found in antique first aid kits, presents a safety hazard because picric acid of that vintage (60-90 years old) will have become crystallized and unstable, and may have formed metal picrates from long storage in a metal first aid case. (Wikipedia)

Editors Note: It is not uncommon to find Picric Acid in solution in Chem and Bio laboratories.  The danger is if Picrates have formed under the lid.  Over the years it was routine to ‘rehydrate’ the Picrates by turning the jar upside down in a 5 gallon bucket of water.  This method, although effective, creates obvious safety concerns with the handling of the material and is now most often handled by a bomb disposal team.  Better safe than sorry.

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