# Samsung's Big Leak: "Up to 763,000 gallons of sulfuric acid" spilled into an Austin TX tributary

Their website wasn’t desperately helpful; but going by Google’s omniscient overmind-eyeball view it looks like it falls roughly into the “large but not gigantic” size range(edit, the street map view is pretty useless; but the photo view has decent details of the buildings along with some parking lots for scale):

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My mom just told me about a place in Idaho where Monsanto trucks were dumping molten lava down a hillside, creating a mountain of slag. I didn’t believe her until I found this:

Source

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slag

“The plant, which consumes roughly as much electricity as Kansas City, produces phosphates which are used in products as varied as soft drinks, insecticides, fireworks, and truck bombs.”

You’d think they would want to reclaim some of the heat, which costs them/us so much to produce.

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For some value of. Orange juice’s pH is around 3.3 - 4.2; cola’s is around 2.9.

Still deadly to most things that LIVE in water, of course. But (using the calculator at pH Calculator - Sensorex ) a solution of just sulfuric acid and water with a pH of 3.0 has a molarity of .001, corresponding to about .098 grams of H2SO4 per liter of water. pH 4.0 is a tenth as concentrated, molarity .0001. Switching to per ton rather than per liter, that’s about 9.8 grams H2SO4 per ton of water. You could neutralize a ton’s worth with two tablespoons of baking soda.

However, that pH 3-4 thing is from the tributary, NOT the waste stream. Just for the heck of it, let’s do the math as to how much baking soda we’d need for 763K gallons of pH 2.0 sulfuric acid. Molarity .01, 2888 tons of solution, ~28880 mols of H2SO4. It takes two mols of NaHCO3 to neutralize one mol of H2SO4, the corresponding molecular weights are 84.008 and 98.07754, so we need ~49470 g of baking soda, pretty close to 49.5 kilos. Sodium bicarb’s maybe \$260/ton in bulk ( Industrial Grade Sodium Carbonate Powder 99.2% Min Sodium Bicarbonate 2.532g/cm3 ), so they’d need about about \$13 worth.

If it was pH 1.0, of course, that’d call for more like half a ton of sodium bicarbonate, costing maybe \$130. pH 0.0: five tons, \$1300.

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Are you seriously arguing that this isn’t a big deal because it likely won’t hurt samsung’s bottom line? Wow

If you give no shits at all about killing everything living in the tributary, and somehow think that neutralizing the pH is all that matters, and confound the volume leaked with the volume of the waterway, and ignore the ecology of real world aquatic environments, than sure

If you are bothered by a company killing off the inhabitants of millions of gallons of local waterways and taking a solution that doesn’t in any way address that damage in the name of saving a few bucks, than this is fucked up

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Eh, always know a big spill from a little one. For an acid hazard, if you can mitigate it by dropping a bag of baking soda into the affected ditch, it’s probably wasn’t that that big a spill. Hard on the pond scum that dissolved in the gunk before the guy with the bag showed up, but hey.

Having said that, every now and then a chemical plant in Texas explodes because rain, so my understanding of what counts as a big problematic chemical hazard may have become a bit jaded. ( https://www.csb.gov/arkema-inc-chemical-plant-fire-/ )

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