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It's tragic enough that maybe three dozen were killed because of the gross negligence of the owners of West Fertilizer Co in West, Texas.

But compounding the carnage, it seems as if half the town was leveled including several schools and houses five blocks from the plant. But wait, there were houses five blocks from a fertilizer plant? There were actually houses across the street from this plant, and not just houses, but two of the town's three schools:

Satellite map of West, Texas, showing two schools immediately adjacent to fertilizer plant that blew.
Fertilizer is a well-known component of homemade bombs for a reason—it's extremely explosive. The thought that people would build homes around a fertilizer plant boggles the mind, the thought that they would build two schools directly adjacent to it is borderline criminal. What if that explosion had occurred during school hours? It's not as if they didn't know of the potential danger:
Two months ago, students at the intermediate school were evacuated after school officials noticed a controlled brush burn near the plant. They weren't informed about the burn, Crawford said, but the evacuation went well and students and staff got out quickly.
The middle school suffered severe fire damage. An apartment building adjacent the plant was completely leveled, killing about 15. See that tan circle off the northwest corner of the plant? That was a playground. A nursing home was within the blast radius and was completely leveled. You can see many more pictures of the damage here.

There is a reason zoning laws exist. But Texas being Texas, apparently the "freedom" to set up shop next to a bomb trumps everything else—including the lives and properties of far too many in West.

Originally posted to kos on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:40 AM PDT.

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

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