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Fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
The death toll is now believed to be 30 to 40 people in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, and the final fatality count is only the beginning of what we don't know. But, in combination with the plant having claimed to pose no fire or explosive risks, this report from the Wall Street Journal based on the same risk-management filing by the company, will have to raise some eyebrows:
The company said the plant had no alarms, automatic shutoff system, firewall or sprinkler system.
Um, do what now? Assuming this report is correct, we still don't know if any of those things had been added since that filing—though it's pretty clear whatever the company was doing to ensure safety was not enough. Additionally:
The Texas commission told the company that it needed to build a barrier between the tanks and road traffic, and the company said it complied, according to the environmental agency’s report.

The report highlighted the facility’s proximity to populated areas, saying that it must be equipped with a water-spray system to address accidental emissions, and remarked that it was within 3,000 feet from a school.

The plant was built in 1962 and had clearly had its struggles coming up to the standards of 40 to 50 years later. Just how far short it fell, and how preventable this disaster should have been, is something we'll be finding out much more about in the days to come.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 01:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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