From the "you can't make this up" department ... the AP reports that the fertilizer plant in West, Texas was last inspected in 1985.
Records reviewed by The Associated Press show that OSHA issued the West Chemical & Fertilizer Co., as the plant was called at the time, a $30 fine for a serious violation for storage of anhydrous ammonia.To put this in perspective--this is a plant that had over 50,000 gallons of ammonia on site. And yet, the last time it was inspected, I was seven years old, and a good number of the school children who are sitting at home for the second day in a row weren't even born. Makes you wonder--was somebody paid off?
OSHA cited the plant for four other serious violations of respiratory protection standards but did not issue fines. The maximum fine for a serious violation was $1,000.
It is not unusual for companies to negotiate lower fines.
Regardless of whether this was an arson or not, the owner of this plant should ultimately get the blame for this tragedy--remember, he not only lied to the EPA about the risk of a fire, but also didn't have the most basic safety equipment on hand. But it looks like this can be laid at the feet of OSHA as well.
I'm shaking with anger as I type this. More and more, it's looking like even if this isn't an act of terrorism, it was an entirely man-made disaster.