The Dallas Morning News reports that the plant that exploded filled out a form to the EPA and to local authorities that there was no fire risk involved at its plant. Even though it had 54,000 gallons on anhydrous ammonia on hand, it stated in its reports according to the online edition that the worst-case scenario was a 10-minute release of anhydrous ammonia that would kill or injure nobody.
I have learned some things about anhydrous ammonia because our local authorities (thankfully) got training on what to do if there is an accident involving anhydrous ammonia. One video that we saw showed a deeply disturbing video of a cop who was killed in an ammonia tanker wreck in Illinois 10 years ago. He was trying to play hero and rescue a driver and got killed.
The problem is that a lot of people don't realize how dangerous anhydrous ammonia really is. It cannot be put out with water like most fires can, because of the nature of the chemical. In fact, according to the link, water can make it worse:
“Emergency responders should not mix water used for firefighting directly with anhydrous ammonia as this will result in warming of the product, causing the liquid to turn into a vapor cloud,” says the website of Calamco, a growers’ cooperative in California.Explosive hazards with fertilizer are more commonly linked to ammonium nitrate, which is widely used both in agriculture and as an explosive in construction and mining. A mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil was used to make the bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 18 years ago Friday.There is special protective equipment that firefighters must wear in the event of an ammonia accident, and here in Missouri, there are certain special emergency numbers that people must call. There are special techniques that firefighters must follow, like staying upwind of ammonia. Sadly, there is inadequate training for how to handle anhydrous ammonia.
We do not know what caused the fire, but we are looking for answers. I'll post some more updates for a little while and then go to bed.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM PT: We've learned some more information about the explosion. I'll be here for a little while longer. Feel free to discuss. If this is bunk, I will delete tomorrow morning.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM PT: Information Hotline: 254-202-1100 about loved ones.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 10:57 PM PT: Twitter user "Restore Reality" -- "U can bet your last dollar that TAXPAYERS will b stuck w the cleanup & reconstruction costs & NOT the CORPORATION RESPONSIBLE."
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 10:59 PM PT: Twitter user Aruna Ayer: "So it wasn't enough that lives are endangered by terrorists and fanatics, we also had to add human apathy to the list."
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:07 PM PT: AlysonMcNuttEnglish -- "And there is very little -- other than short-term bad pr -- to keep companies in line on true worker safety and well-being."
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:08 PM PT: It's a little after 1:00 a.m. my time, and the tweets are still coming in 20 per minute.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:13 PM PT: Red Cross site is slow to load. Be patient if you follow the link.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:16 PM PT: Conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodworks, ranting against the government's alleged mishanding of the Branch Davidian showdown.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:24 PM PT: Back in 1947, a fertilizer fire in Texas killed over 500, including many first responders.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:30 PM PT: Joseph Fenity @JosephFenity
NEW CONCERN: #Texas Dept of Public Safety now concerned about an "unexploded tank venting gas" at #West #Waco plant -@BenRussellNBC5 @NBCDFW
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:33 PM PT: Charles Lister @Charles_Lister
"Sensationalists seriously need to stop trying to draw links between #Boston, the #ricin letters and the #Waco fertiliser plant explosion."
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:39 PM PT: Texas Governor to hold a press conference at 11:45 CDT this morning.
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:42 PM PT: HonestyinGov @HnstyNgov
"Wasn't the #EPA 1 of the 3 Govt orgs that #TX @GovernorPerry said he wanted to abolish?.. as NOT needed?"
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:56 PM PT: Boarding Facilities: Contact Chris Watts at 214-282-4612 if you can board for free
Wed Apr 17, 2013 at 11:58 PM PT: One Twitter poster says ALEC is already moving in for damage control.
12:04 AM PT: Off to bed now. Good night and good luck.