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View Diary: Boston, MA vs West, TX (281 comments)

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  •  definitely not my expertise, but . . . (3+ / 0-)

    isn't this ammonium nitrate fertilizer made from natural gas? If so, with the price of natural gas so low, perhaps the plant owners decided to stockpile it until they could sell at a higher price at a future time. Given the lax regulation, is it possible that there are stockpiles of ammonium nitrate similar to this all over Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and maybe in the Dakotas as well?

    It's criminal for first responders like EMT's and volunteer firemen in small towns who are normally dealing with kitchen fires and heart attacks to be putting into harm's way in a situation like this. I'm curious, what sort of technology, equipment and trained personnel needed for an emergency in such a facility? Obviously not a firetruck and a couple guys with hoses and extinguishers.

    This is the kind of horrible and shocking news we hear and shake our heads when it happens in China - I can see why Rick Perry wants to secede. He probably had the owners over to his disgusting backwoods place for a bit of hunting and male bonding - hope he's real proud of the results of his "business-friendly" approach.

    •  Well..... (6+ / 0-)

      For production of ammonium nitrate they usually start with anhydrous ammonia and nitric acid-- both of which are flammable or explosive in their own right, and anhydrous ammonia is also a severe inhalation hazard.  It's not clear to me at this point whether the factory was actually making ammonium nitrate (I should find that out).  

      This is also exactly why facilities like this are required to notify regulators of the materials they store-- so the local fire department will know for example what not to pour water on.  The problem is, these reports are generated by the company  or its consultants, don't always get a proper critical review from the regulators, and in any case the info in them can be false or incomplete.  In this case, apparently from the plant's federal "EPCRA" filing,  this sort of explosion was not supposed to be possible.  Well guess what? It was.

      In some places, such as my own Massachusetts, fire departments will lobby against places like this opening-- or will outright refuse to issue permits for chemical storage--in the interests of public safety, if the department does not have the personnel and equipment to respond to an emergency.  This is less common now that we have access to Homeland Security money and more mutual aid (including regional hazmat units), but it's still a concern.  It's no coincidence at all that the local hazmat battalion is based two miles from the Solutia plant.

      Irony is the ultimate cop-out way of turning something you didn't mean into something you did...the last refuge of the scoundrel.-- Julian Cope

      by Thunderthief on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 05:21:38 PM PDT

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    •  Gas It Is! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jfromga
      isn't this ammonium nitrate fertilizer made from natural gas?
      Yes it is, and large amounts of electricity. There's an ammonium nitrate plant here in our county, owned by Dyno Nobel, and I've studied the operation and processes some. However, there are not any schools or residences within what might be a theoretical blast zone of the plant, and Oregon isn't afraid of regulations that involve safety.

      You meet them halfway with love, peace and persuasion, and expect them to rise for the occasion ~ Van Morrison

      by paz3 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:06:40 AM PDT

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