Monday, December 9, 2019

Good ol' abandonment of chemicals in Illinois

Lawrence D. Rutledge, 57, of Belleville, Illinois, has been sentenced to five years of federal probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $335,934.87 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“U.S. EPA”) for clean-up expenses associated with his illegal storage of hazardous waste in St. Clair County, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Steven D. Weinhoeft, announced today. 
Rutledge pleaded guilty to the charge in July.
In 1997, Rutledge started a business called Advanced Asymmetrics, Inc., to synthesize specialty chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry. The business was located inside a commercial building at 109 South Kossuth Street in Millstadt, Illinois, in close proximity to a residential area and a senior living home. Over time, Rutledge accumulated numerous containers of chemicals and chemical waste at the Millstadt facility. Sometime around 2011, Rutledge stopped paying the county property taxes on the Millstadt facility, and over the next few years, the electrical service and the water service (both water supply and sewer) to the facility were shut off. 
In August 2015, employees of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (“Illinois EPA”) and the U.S. EPA entered the facility and discovered hundreds of containers with labels indicating the presence of acids, caustics, and other chemicals, as well as hazardous waste. Some of the metal containers had rusted, and crystallization had started to occur on metal surfaces. Some had even fallen over and broken open. Sodium cyanide, which is extremely toxic, was stored within one inch of a container containing acid, presenting the potential formation of cyanide gas. Investigators also discovered a container labelled as a shock-sensitive picric acid, which is highly explosive.
So it's pretty clear that Advanced Asymmetrics did not do well. It's my understanding and broad experience that it takes a lot to get criminally prosecuted by USEPA, so I imagine this is an egregious case. So here's my question for discussion: when companies go bust like this, what happens with the chemicals? Clearly, the organization is financially responsible, but what happens when the company doesn't have any cash? Who pays for Veolia to show up? 

Friday, December 6, 2019

Always time for a glassblowing video

From the Richmond Standard (which is apparently funded by Chevron), an article about Chevron Richmond's glassblower:
...For 20 years, (Marianna) Pittner has been the go-to glassblower at the Chevron Richmond Technology Center (RTC), where she is tasked with creating a wide variety of custom glass apparatus for a fleet of ambitious chemists.  From a sizable workshop equipped with torches, lathes and oodles of glassware of varying heat sensitivities, Pittner repairs and creates beakers, test tubes and a host of other glasswear that Chevron scientists need in their quest to modernize the production of transportation fuels, lubricating base oils and other related products. The fuel additive Techron, for example, is one of the more widely known inventions created at the RTC. 
On a daily basis, chemists drop into Pittner’s workshop with requests to create custom glass pieces of varying specifications. At times, she’ll create pieces straight from examples that chemists draw by hand in notebooks. Often, she’ll meet with chemists to come up with blueprints for designs that solve problems in the research process, such as creating glass apparatus that manipulate direction of flow and temperature of the solutions undergoing tests. 
“I will never tell the chemist I can’t do that,” Pittner said. “I will figure it out; I enjoy the discovery. You have be very logical and problem-solving to make it in this field.” 
 Every chemist should have a great glassblower to help them. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Job posting: Formulation & Characterization Group Lead, Catalent, Madison, WI

Via Twitter, this position:
Position Title: Supervisor, Formulation and Characterization Group
Location: Madison, WI
***Please note that relocation assistance is available for the right candidate*** 
Position Requirements: 
The responsibility of the Formulation & Characterization Group Lead would be inclusive of the following tasks:
  • Manage Madison Formulation & Characterization Group (4 direct reports)
  • As a member of the Analytical Development Leadership Team, collaborate with clients to deliver world class formulation and characterization studies.
  • Develop and train junior formulation and characterization scientists.
  • Enhance value of formulation, stability, and characterization studies performed in Madison to clients through high-value add activities
Education or Equivalent:
  • Ph.D. in Chemistry or related field with at least 5 years of industry experience
  • MS in Chemistry, or related field with at least 7 years of industry laboratory experience
  • B.S/B.A. in Chemistry, or related field with at least 7-10 years experience in a laboratory environment
  • Thorough understanding of the origins of protein stability, degradation, and folding and the various factors that can affect proteins during the pharmaceutical development process.
  • Expertise in the wide range of analytical techniques applied to formulation and stability studies; Mass Spectrometry expertise desired. 
  • Experience in formulation development for proteins, not limited to antibodies, highly preferred
  • Experience in both drug substance and drug product development.
  • Experience in the statistical analysis and interpretation of formulation and stability data to drive decisions.  Proficiency in JMP and/or R preferred.
  • Excellent technical writing skills, and experience with authoring protocols, reports, and procedures for regulatory submissions
  • Experience mentoring and training junior staff
Link to full position here. Best wishes to those interested.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Bet Chemours did not mention Mark Ruffalo in its forward guidance

An interesting comment from Wall Street about the new movie Dark Waters about the PFOA story in West Virginia: 
The movie “Dark Waters” about the effect of deadly chemicals in West Virginia is “very damaging” for DuPont de Nemours Inc., Wall Street analysts at Fermium Research wrote in a report before its theatrical debut on November 22. 
Analyst Frank Mitsch -- who watched a sneak preview -- thinks that “Dark Waters” will probably be a hit film and may cast a shadow over DuPont shares and the entire chemical industry. The movie focuses on DuPont and Chemours Co.’s already-settled litigation over perfluorooctanoic acid production. 
DuPont’s shares fell as much as 2.7% on Friday in New York, while broader market inched higher. 
“We can see a scenario where interest in DD from individual investors (85% institutional ownership according to Bloomberg) dissipates, though also a broader concern for the chemicals sector given the negative portrayal,” he added.
The number of companies targeted by Hollywood biopics over the years is actually pretty high, but it's amusing to think about the effects of a movie on a stock price...

(Anyone seen the movie? I'm planning on streaming it at some point in the future.)  

If you're going to steal secrets, don't get caught redhanded

From this week's Chemical and Engineering News, the latest in the IP theft world (by Marc S. Reisch):
A federal grand jury in St. Louis has indicted former Monsanto researcher Haitao Xiang for stealing crop productivity algorithms with the intention of handing them over to a Chinese government research institute. After Xiang quit his job in June 2017, he downloaded the algorithms to a micro-SD card, according to the indictment. He then purchased a one-way ticket to China; federal officials stopped him at the airport and seized the card. If convicted, Xiang faces up to 15 years in prison and a $5 million fine on each of several espionage charges, and up to 10 years for each of several trade secret theft charges.
Important caveat: ham sandwich. I wonder how they caught him, and how they knew this was happening? It will be interesting to see what happens to Mr. Xiang. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List: 484 research/teaching positions and 34 teaching faculty positions

The 2020 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List (curated by Andrew Spaeth and myself) has 484 research/teaching positions and 34 teaching assistant professor positions.

Want to add a position? Here's a Google Form to enter positions. In 2019-2020, we will be adding teaching professor positions, targeting positions that demonstrate an intention to renew permanently, 3 year terms and a promotion ladder and/or are titled "assistant teaching professor" or "associate teaching professor." As of 9/20/19, we are adding community college positions if they explicitly offer tenure.

See an error? Please contact us at

On December 4, 2018, the 2018 Chemistry Faculty Jobs List had 486 positions.

Open threads: firstsecondthirdfourthfifth. This will be the sixth open thread on December 4, 2019.

Can't see additional comments? Look for the "load more" button underneath the comment box.

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List: 84 positions

The Chemical Engineering Faculty Jobs List has 84 positions. It is curated by Lilian Josephson (@lljosephson). 

The Academic Staff Jobs List: 28 positions

The Academic Staff Jobs list has 28 positions.

This list is curated by Sarah Cady. It targets:
  • Full-time STAFF positions in a Chem/Biochem/ChemE lab/facility at an academic institution/natl lab
  • Lab Coordinator positions for research groups or undergraduate labs 
  • and for an institution in Canada or the United States
Want to help out? Here's a Google Form to enter positions.

Want to chat about staff scientist positions? Try the open thread.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Job posting: Sr. Scientist, Process Chemistry, Firmenich, Newark, NJ

From the inbox, this position at Firmenich in Newark, NJ:

Key Responsibilities:
  • Research & development of chemistry pathways towards Firmenich molecules
  • Industrialization of the newly developed processes
  • Generating ideas to improve the economic and environmental efficiency of our manufacturing processes and implementing them from lab to production
  • Actively contribute to global project teams with R&D, Engineering, Operations
  • Support of the existing production processes through deep involvement in daily operation of Firmenich largest chemical plant
  • Contribute to technology transfers between Firmenich manufacturing plants as well as with external partners
  • Supervision of lab associates
  • PhD in Organic Chemistry or closely related field with preferably undergraduate training in Chemical Engineering
  • 8+ years of industrial process chemistry/chemical development experience, preferably in specialty/fine chemical industry
  • Strong knowledge of modern synthetic organic chemistry, catalysis & process chemistry
  • Hands-on experience at least in synthetic chemistry and separation operations like fractional distillation
Link to position here. Best wishes to those interested.