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View Diary: Toxic Texas politics on display in fertilizer plant explosion (126 comments)

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  •  Just the same comment I was going to post. (8+ / 0-)

    The behavior of the plant operators should be akin to murder.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:55:46 AM PDT

    •  Hommicide (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VTelder, a2nite, marty marty

      Due to gross criminal negligence.

    •  People seem to be under the impression (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Havoth, shmuelman

      that this was a manufacturing plant. It wasn't. It was a distributorship for fertilizer.
      There are no "plant operators", the guy had 8 employees.
      Here's a satellite picture Kos posted in a diary over the weekend:

      West Fertilizer is on the right of the picture.
      The thing everyone keeps calling a plant is a big storage shed, a few buildings and some old grain tanks. There are tanks for anyhydrous ammonia that you can see in pictures taken after the fire. A large tank for storage of anhydrous.
      That's about it.
      Now, if the fire department didn't know that he was storing ammonium nitrate and sprayed water on it, if the conditions were right, it would have blown sky high. That would be criminal negligence, and even if the guy is 80 years old, there should be consequences for his negligence. But he's not some corporate guy who makes millions a year in bonuses, he's just an old man who sells fertilizer to farmers.
      But I'd really like to find out what started the fire before we start calling for the man's head on a plate.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:30:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about the 'secret' storage of volatile (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes

        chemicals?  That were stored in a very dangerous manner?  I assume not accounted for in inventory records?

        Also, seems I've read that the place had 8 employees in 1985, when it was last inspected, but today has many more workers which puts it over the OSHA threshold.

        My memory may well be wrong, though.  Wall to wall repetitious coverage of what happened in Boston and Texas has been mind-numbing the past several days...had to bow out for sanity's sake.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:30:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good post, but a couple of clarifiers here: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shmuelman, skohayes

        It is a plant. They mix the anhydrous ammonia with the solid materials (nitrate, etc) and store (before shipping) large amounts of ammonium nitrate (the end results). They are next to a railroad for receiving and shipping, but that railroad section is closed because of the blast.  

        From the Waco Tribune

        The company mixes dry fertilizer and stores anhydrous ammonia in large tanks. Anhydrous ammonia is known to be explosive at high temperatures. It is used in making ammonium nitrate, the key ingredient in the 1995 bomb at the federal building in Oklahoma City and the cause of the 1947 Texas City explosion that killed more than 580 people.

        McLennan County AgriLife Extension Agent Shane McLellan said the anhydrous ammonia was trucked in, stored in tanks and dispensed directly to farmers under tight regulations. It was not mixed with other ingredients, he said.

        Also from Wfaa.com
        Of greatest concern was up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, which the owner had properly reported to state authorities. Reporting the existence of ammonium nitrate is important because of the chemical's well-known potential to explode...By itself, when properly ventilated, the chemical is considered safe. So what caused the chemical to explode in West?

        Explosion and pipeline safety expert Don Deaver said the likely trigger is the fire that raged just feet away from the storage building on Wednesday night.

        From the MSDS on ammonium nitrate
        Section 5: Fire and Explosion Data
        Flammability of the Product: May be combustible at high temperature.
        Auto-Ignition Temperature: 300°C (572°F)
        Flash Points: CLOSED CUP: Higher than 93.3°C (200°F).
        Fire Hazards in Presence of Various Substances:
        Slightly flammable to flammable in presence of heat, of combustible materials, of organic materials.
        Risks of explosion of the product in presence of mechanical impact: N/A. Slightly explosive in presence of heat, of combustible materials, of organic
        materials, of metals.
        Fire Fighting Media and Instructions:
        Oxidizing material. Do not use water jet. Use flooding quantities of water. Avoid contact with organic materials.
        Special Remarks on Fire Hazards:
        Caution: Strong Oxidizer. Contact with material may cause a fire. Contact with combustible or organic materials may cause fire.
        Special Remarks on Explosion Hazards:
        It is an oxidizing agent and can self-ignite/detonate when in contact with powdered metals and some organic materials such as Urea and Acetic Acid.

        When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

        by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:36:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They don't mix the anhydrous (0+ / 0-)

          As your link says, they store anhydrous (which is a liquid), and mix dry fertilizers.
          That being said, they reported the storage of the ammonium nitrate to the state authorities, but would the local volunteer fire department have been aware of that (you would think so, but then why were they using water near it?)?
          Here's what one person told me in another thread about this last week:

          Yes, you are right. AN + heat + (6+ / 0-)
          H2O = a very large bang.

          A small amount of water relative to AN fire can accelerate the reaction. A very large amount of water is needed to suppress this kind of fire. One fire unit just will not cut it and that is why I too suspect that they didn't know what they were dealing with.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:41:39 AM PDT

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      •  I don't think the "man's head on a plate" is the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes

        real issue in the end. It is of course lax / nonexistent regulation and oversight. I have hear that fire fighters will not enter McMansion style houses because of the toxic insulation and the rate that the houses burn. Going into a "not a plant" like this and spraying water is clearly deadly. Maybe the owner / operator did nothing wrong at all - after all, accidents happen. It is the fact that it adjoins an apartment building that is the issue.

        "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

        by shmuelman on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:33:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, those are all salient points (0+ / 0-)

          but the apartment house, schools and nursing homes were all built after the fertilizer place was already there.
          As one person stated in the article above, no one thought anything about it.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:45:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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