Texas Tech University


What Happened?

On June 30, 2022, a chemistry stock room employee received a salvage drum delivery.  The employee opened this salvage drum and received an inhalation exposure of methanol fumes.  The employee was told to move to fresh air and the room was evacuated until Environmental Health and Safety arrived to determine the source of exposure. 

Salvage Drum Picture                  Bag FIlled with Misc items


What was the cause?

Salvage drums are defined as “special packaging into which damaged, defective, leaking, or non-conforming hazardous materials packages, or hazardous materials that have spilled or leaked, are placed for purposes of transport for recovery or disposal.” (49 CFR 171.8).  This material should not be opened without considering the risk of exposure to fumes or exposure to air.  The salvage drums are overpacks that contain the remnants of broken or leaking hazardous material packaging. The employee was not aware of this and opened it as they would any chemical delivery.

What corrective actions were taken?

Environmental Health and Safety processes and delivers most chemicals through our ‘Chemical Gateway' and this salvage drum was no different.  Gateway personnel were instructed to hold all future salvage drums for review and likely disposal preventing them from reaching the final customer.  Chemistry stockroom personnel were instructed to not open any future Salvage drums and instead contact Environmental Health and Safety for pickup and disposal.

How can we prevent incidents like this?

  • Be mindful that ‘Salvage Drums' are not typical chemical containers and should be processed as hazardous waste by contacting Environmental Health and Safety.  
  • Do not open these containers if you receive them.