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

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  •  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
    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

      [ Parent ]

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