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  •  If I understand the question correctly, (6+ / 0-)

    marsanges, you're asking who's out there now.

    I believe that's going to be the State Fire Marshal's Office, or at least they're going to be the current iteration of Incident Command.

    Their purpose is to see if they can figure out what happened with regard to the fire. The plant had a fire before the explosion. I have heard that reports indicated a structural fire. I have also read that a grass fire may have been what brought firefighters out to the plant site last Wednesday.

    Now, I am going to speculate a little. I think Texas Commission on Environmental Quality may have somebody out there. I think the Texas Department of State Health Services may have an Environmental Health team out there investigating too. Can't say for sure as I don't work for either agency.

    Documents in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s files were scanned and posted online by Justin Ripple of Banks Environmental Data, a consulting firm in Austin.

    Past and current owners and managers of the small company, founded in 1962, have declined to answer questions about its operations or the explosion.

    Nearly all the permit files deal with anhydrous ammonia, a liquid fertilizer kept under pressure and classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as an extremely hazardous chemical — meaning a leak of its gas could kill large numbers of people.

    Now, if what they're "squelching" the speculation about the railcar being full of ammonium nitrate based on nothing more than a Union Pacific spokeswoman's word ... Union Pacific is a huge corporation. A railroad. Its history of environmental responsibility and its safety history are, shall we say, less than salutary?

    Past investigations by state and local officials appear mostly to have been about anhydrous and its toxic fumes.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/...

    The most recent inspections at this plant appear also to have involved a Federal outfit --
    http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/ which apparently found efforts to comply amenable.

    I am not here to apologize for the GOP -- in Texas or elsewhere, or for giant corporations. But my mom's hometown, Meadow, Texas, could have been West (okay, Meadow is about 1/3 as big as West). My SO's hometown could have been West (Roosevelt is about 1/3 as big as Meadow). This could have been a little farm town in Louisiana or Missouri or Montana or Nebraska or Iowa or Indiana or Mississippi or ... anywhere, really.

    I do think we need to get more use out of the money we spend on "homeland security," a phrase I loathe heartily.
    Think Progress has more history on the fertilizer plant:
    http://thinkprogress.org/...

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 12:47:47 PM PDT

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    •  thanks a lot. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anotherdemocrat, northsylvania

      so well, 1/9 of West, is that one homestead? ach in some part I admire the small scales you have out there. (We have ten million people cramped in one of the larger metropolises here).

      So this Fire Marshal´s Office; will their work have consequences?

      One obviously shouldnt presume on their eventual findings. Yet, if those findings turn out that way, will they be used/usable for judicial proceedings against responsible management? As, in will there be personal consequences for such managers (and be they single site overseers)? I assume the company itself will be finished from the liabilities, but that is not sufficient as a deterrent in todays´s industrial management world.

      We had a butadiene fire in a simple chemical storage company, Chemie-Pack in Moerdijk, some 1 1/2 yrs ago. They had simply gone sloppy on safety measures, were not really in violation of technical or paper requirements but were decidedly sluggish in actual works oversignth, so a laziness spread until a lowly workfloor man - but under the direct oversight and attendance of site managers - used a gas blow-torch to warm up a frozen in transport valve, well that was not wise. The Interior ministry prosecuted the management (the three highest ranking ones on site) for attempted intentional manslaughter and wanted serious jailtime. The trial turned on the "intentional" part and the court threw that out and gave only "on probation" jailtime for inadvertent manslaughter. Appeals are pending - Interior wants to press the case; managers say that if they arent intentionally guilty they shouldnt get jail at all.

      my point in this is that trials like this are closely watched throughout industry and are necessary to make clear to middle level managers that there is a very personal side to their management responsibility. The absence of such trials is also watched.

      That was why Interior concentrated on prosecuting the management - and not the workman.

      I can believe that the owner, of the named family there, is as stricken as anyone else about the disaster but that doesnt take away that consequences must be carried out if culpabilities are established. If that doesnt happen, more such disasters are the result.

       

      •  marsanges: my mom's granddad (4+ / 0-)

        founded the town, in the late 1890s. At its peak it had probably 1500-2000 residents. My parents are buried in the municipal cemetery, about 3 miles out of town. Meadow covers the same amount of ground as West; when I was a teen there, it still had several going businesses -- laundromat, farm implement dealer(s) -- two! -- the co-op gin, the local grocery, a lunchstand, a fuel depot (LPG and diesel). All of it's gone now. Population's down to about 600 these days. Railroad runs along the same edge of town as US 62/82 (aka Brownfield Highway). Briefly, in the 1990s, there was an oil boom -- 3 wells, IIRC, and somebody actually opened an ATM in a little bricked-over shed on the gin yard. That's gone, too. It's a farming town.

        My SO's hometown never even got incorporated. There's a bigger school than Meadow, all in one building ...

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 01:53:10 PM PDT

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      •  Who can be held accountable (4+ / 0-)

        It's a very short list. The owner, Don Adair, is 83. As long as legal cases like this typically take it will be remarkable if he lives that long. Of the remaining parties we have:

        Adair left the day-to-day operations at West Fertilizer to the plant's 13 employees, including general manager Ted Uptmore Sr., who has been employed by the company for 50 years, Keeney and others said.

        Uptmore ran the fertilizer part of the company, while Andrew "Rusty" Kwast, Adair's son-in-law, ran the grain side,

        http://news.yahoo.com/...

        Note that Mr. Uptmore, the general manager, is not himself a very young man.

        "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

        by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 02:28:23 PM PDT

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        •  both you (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1, Catte Nappe, Spit

          I mean both your replies illustrate the very different situations we write from. I am a bit taken aback and want to excuse if I may have appeared insensitive. You, or blacksheep, mourn a home. I´m writing from a totally different prespective - I havent had a home in twenty years, my home is my work in a big international, and my interest in the explosion at West comes from my fear of managerial irresponsibility in companies whose single site workforce is easy three times the total inhabitants of West. So again ... Ill shut up now. Think of me as the engineer (I´m not one but it suffices) running around in a big combinate who swears to himself that he´ll not ever want to find himself in that situation, whatever line management may say. Its a different angle. I wish both of you, but most of all the people out there in West all the best, and they have my solidarity as far as that means anything.

          •  Not insensitive at all! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlackSheep1, marsanges, Spit

            Curious, which is good. And taking away a key message, which is even better: "swears to himself that he´ll not ever want to find himself in that situation, whatever line management may say"  What a difference it would have made had someone at that plant had the same attitude.

            Also, if I read your comment correctly you may have gotten an impression that BlackSheep or I personally lost homes in that explosion. BlacksSheep indicates coming from another small rural town similar in some ways to West. I live in Dallas, about 70 miles away from West and am familiar with the town and others like it.

            "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

            by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:14:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Catte Nappe: I don't think I've ever actually (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Catte Nappe

              had the privilege of stopping in West. The cutoffs from 35 for me are either north of there, or pick it up well south of there ... I'm an hour and a half north of 20, and about 2 hours south of 40, and about five minutes from Exit 1 on 27.

              LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

              by BlackSheep1 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:17:26 PM PDT

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              •  Like most in this area (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BlackSheep1

                We've of course stopped in West for baked goods and sausages when coming and going on 35; but my husband had a friend in grad school who was from there so we went to WestFest a couple of times, and attended the guys wedding which was an all out Catholic Czech country affair!

                Actually, much of my exposure to "small" and "rural" was growing up. My father was Air Force, and they often put AFB's out in the boondocks, so I spent most of my teen years in such boondocks.

                "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

                by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:27:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  when did they NOT put AFBs in the boondocks? (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catte Nappe

                  I used to be Air Force.

                  I know where Minot is.
                   And Bossier City.
                   And Alamogordo.  
                   

                  LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

                  by BlackSheep1 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:36:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  LOL (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BlackSheep1

                    Some aren't in the boondocks. We spent some time at Lowry, pretty much smack dab in the Denver metro, when I was in elementary. And according to records I was born at Brooke Army when my dad was stationed at Lackland - again pretty much right there in the San Antonio urban environment.

                    "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

                    by Catte Nappe on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 06:05:13 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

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