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Reactor contents ejected due to unplanned reaction

Incident

In order to save some time the operators at a plant did not wait for the water content of their solvent to be determined, as it had always been fine in the past.  However this time, there had been an unnoticed problem in the solvent recovery plant, leaving the solvent (dichloromethane) saturated with water.

The operators continued the process and ran in a large amount of anhydride, within minutes the temperature began to rise uncontrollably and a large proportion of the contents were ejected

Lessons Learnt

Once again, it cannot be stressed enough, that procedures are there to follow for a reason.  Had these been followed then the water analysis of the solvent would have shown the operators that it was dangerous to proceed. This is even more paramount with dichloromethane, due to the amount of water that can dissolve in it (around 2%)

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