Corporate Domestic Terrorism.
Welcome to Rick Perry's Texas where regulation does not kill jobs. It kills and maims people instead.
Governor Rick Perry has been running around the U.S. boasting about Texas and its low taxes, small government, weak regulation, little oversight, anti-union right to work state in which workers and consumers have few protections. Rick Perry is proud to let business owners know that they can move their businesses to Texas where they can avoid paying taxes while they run rough shod over the safety and well-being of its residents and consumers in one form or another. Of course the Governor fails to mention that low taxes and corporate welfare programs mean there is little left in the state's piggy bank to deal with important items such as infrastructure. Welcome to the state of worn out, outdated, crowded roads and challenges with its future water supply.
Because of lax if any regulation in Texas where plants like West can run amok, this would be a perfect place for terrorists to flee to as well. I wonder if this dark thought ever crossed the Governor's mind?
Rick Perry claims that low regulation levels the playing field. But as we recently learned, low regulation also levels schools, homes, churches and businesses. Not to mention the loss of life where apparently life is cheap in Rick Perry's unregulated Texas.
Few of us have missed the news about the horrendous explosion in West, Texas just days after the terrorist attack in Boston. Many of us were stunned to learn that West Fertilizer Co., located in a farming community outside of Waco, TX had the capability to literally make bombs.
The company had been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This amount is 100 times more than what domestic right wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren't shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.West Co. Fertilizer has had issues with state and federal environmental compliance for years.
A U.S. congressman and several safety experts called into question on Friday whether incomplete disclosure or regulatory gridlock may have contributed to the disaster.
"It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid," Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. "This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up."
Homes, schools, churches and a nursing home were located near the West Co. fertilizer plant. Most have been destroyed. At least eighteen people have been killed and approximately two hundred people have been hurt.
Cross posted on Texas Kaos.
In its RMP filings, West Fertilizer reported on its storage of anhydrous ammonia and said that it did not expect a fire or explosion to affect the facility, even in a worst-case scenario. And it had not installed safeguards such as blast walls around the plant.And now that we know what we know, Rick Perry and his lackeys in the GOP, along with his crony donors, are doing their best to cover up the real horror of the explosion in West, Texas.
A separate EPA program, known as Tier II, requires reporting of ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals stored above certain quantities. Tier II reports are submitted to local fire departments and emergency planning and response groups to help them plan for and respond to chemical disasters. In Texas, the reports are collected by the Department of State Health Services. Over the last seven years, according to reports West Fertilizer filed, 2012 was the only time the company stored ammonium nitrate at the facility.
It reported having 270 tons on site.
"That's just a god awful amount of ammonium nitrate," said Bryan Haywood, the owner of a hazardous chemical consulting firm in Milford, Ohio. "If they were doing that, I would hope they would have gotten outside help."
In response to a request from Reuters, Haywood, who has been a safety engineer for 17 years, reviewed West Fertilizer's Tier II sheets from the last six years. He said he found several items that should have triggered the attention of local emergency planning authorities - most notably the sudden appearance of a large amount of ammonium nitrate in 2012.
"As a former HAZMAT coordinator, that would have been a red flag for me," said Haywood, referring to hazardous materials.
The way it works in Rick Perry's Texas.
The company only filed its total tonnage with the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). In turn that agency and Adair both said “screw the feds” and didn’t pass along that information to Homeland Security as, at least, Adair was legally required to do. Wouldn’t you think TDSHS, whether they were legally obligated to report to Homeland Security or not, would be responsible enough to alert DHS to such an obviously unsafe imbalance?Screw the feds? When the tools for greed screw the feds they screw the residents in their communities. This is yet one more example of how right wing libertarian policies serve to punish rather than help ordinary hard working people.
You’ll recall that Perry spent 90% of his time as a Republican Presidential aspirant ripping Barack Obama’s stimulus initiative and other spending requests. But, of course, that spending included poor people. Now that Perry needs to pick up the political pieces from his state’s vehement anti-regulation posture that will likely be directly implicated in the West tragedy, it’s a different story.
Who will pay for the damage wrought by West Fertilizer Company's reckless irresponsibility? Who will pay for the funerals of those murdered by the plant's arrogance and criminal behavior by thumbing its nose to federal regulation?
Meanwhile, back at Rick Perry's ranch of crony capitalist corruption, the federal government basher in chief, Governor Oops, begged the feds to help clean up the mess and pick up the tab for the damage.
Please say no, Mr. President. Let West Fertilizer pay for the devastation it created. We should put an end to this kind corporate welfare for once and for all. Come to think of it, the terrorists we should fear the most in the U.S. are the corporations that have bought the regulators.
Building such a dangerous facility in the midst of a residential and business area, and allowing homes, nursing homes, hospitals, schools and playgrounds to be built alongside it, is the result of a corrupt process that is commonplace in towns and cities across America, where business leaders routinely have their way with local planning and zoning commissions, safety inspectors and city councils. Businesses small and large also have their way with state and federal safety and health inspectors too.If federal relief funds do become available they should bypass the state and go straight to the victims of a disaster that should have never happened.
Maybe the Governor hopes the majority of us are stupid and clueless. That or we will forget about the explosion in West, Texas.
Let's prove the Governor wrong.