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In this story from Reuters we learn that

The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Why is that important?  Well, let's start with this:
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.
The bomb that took down the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, as Wikipedianotes,
The Oklahoma blast claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of 6,[1] and injured more than 680 people.[2] The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings.
 The  bomb contained less than 4 tons of an explosive of which ammonium nitrate was a key component (mixed with fuel oil).

Forget if you will for a moment, the issue of workplace and community safety, as horrible as the results were.  Consider the issue of national security - DHS is supposed to regulate and monitor such sites to ensure that the materials contained therein do not fall into terrorist or criminal hands.

We know safety regulations were not abided by.

We know zoning was so lax that the damage to the community was so severe, property as well as lives.

Ammonium nitrate does not necessarily explode merely from fire, but can explode alongside other explosives.  The anhydrous ammonia also at the plant is highly explosive.

Surprisingly, ammonium nitrate does not have to be reported to the EPA under its Risk Management Program.

Question - how safe is our homeland when the agency responsible for helping keep us secure does not even know about a site with 270 tons of ammonium nitrate?

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Comment Preferences

  •  I certainly hope the operators will be charged (43+ / 0-)

    with negligent homicide, but I'm not holding my breath. Maybe there should be a new class of federal crimes: "negligent capitalism".

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:58:08 AM PDT

  •  Could have? "The other forms of violence"... (27+ / 0-)

    ...when it comes to economic terrorism, most people don't appreciate the greater truth that violence and public harm is sometimes delivered in sheep's clothing. This must-read is what I'm referencing in the title of this comment...

    The other form of violence

    By Phil Mattera, Dirt Diggers Digest

    Newscasts these days often seem to be less a form of journalism than a kind of bizarre game show for paranoids: what horrible possibility should one worry about the most?

    Most of the time, the main choice is between terrorism and gun violence, especially in recent days as the Boston Marathon bombings have shared the airwaves with the gun control debate in the Senate.

    Now the horrific events in a small town in Texas provide a reminder of another danger, which for most of the population is actually a more significant threat: industrial accidents. As of this writing, the explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco is reported to have killed up to 15 people and injured more than 180 others.

    If the past is any guide, the attention paid to this incident on a national level will fade much faster than the anxiety about the carnage in Boston or the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. The response of most people to terrorism and to gun deaths is to demand that government do something to curb the violence. When people die or are seriously injured in workplace incidents, there is a tendency not to see that as violence at all but rather as an unfortunate side effect of doing certain kinds of business. While labor unions and other advocates push for stronger enforcement of safety laws, corporations and their front groups usually succeed in keeping such regulation as weak as possible...

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:59:54 AM PDT

    •  There were an easy DOZEN "terrorist events"... (8+ / 0-)

      ...that occurred in this country over the past week, if you include The Institute for Southern Studies' definition of the term, from where the comment above originates, and when one includes the harm that economic terrorism imposes upon our society.

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:10:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  102 years ago, America witnessed a similar... (8+ / 0-)

        ...event to what occurred in West, Texas last week: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The similarities between the two are, quite frankly, horrific, at least in terms of how this type of thing plays out these days (with not even a mention in the MSM or the blogosphere about this greater truth; in fact, it is that reality which I find most disconcerting of all). Orwell would be proud!

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:21:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  And, the "other" BP event in Texas City in 2005... (8+ / 0-)

            From the full story I referenced two comments, above...

            ...The truth is that corporations often show a brazen disregard for the safety of their employees -- and nearby residents. Probably the biggest workplace assailant in recent years has been BP, which even before the 2010 explosion at its oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers had been cited for atrocious safety violations at its refinery in Texas City, Texas, where 15 workers were killed and about 180 injured in a 2005 explosion.

            BP initially agreed to pay a then-record $21.4 million in fines for nearly 300 "egregious" violations at the refinery, but in 2009 OSHA announced that the company was not living up to its obligations under the settlement and proposed an even larger fine -- $87.4 million -- against the company for allowing unsafe conditions to persist. BP challenged the fine and later agreed to pay $50.6 million. Apparently deciding it could not run the refinery safely, BP announced in 2012 that it was selling the facility.

            In the list of the all-time largest fines in OSHA’s history, BP is at the top of the list. It’s interesting that the next largest fine involved another fertilizer company -- IMC Fertilizer, which along with Angus Chemical was initially fined $11.6 million (negotiated down to about $10 million) for violations linked to a 1991 explosion at a plant in Louisiana in which eight workers were killed and 120 injured...

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:05:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Terrorism and violence is delivered up in our... (3+ / 0-)

              ...society in various ways, shapes and forms. Regrettably, much/most of it is tacitly sanctioned for (captured) political reasons. For anyone to argue otherwise simply belies far greater truths.

              "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

              by bobswern on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:10:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Which is pretty pathetic if you think about it (4+ / 0-)

              First, the BP fine, even 84 million, which is far less than they ultimately paid, is such small fraction of their relative profits that it is simply rendered into a fairly small cost of doing business. Wasn't it just a year ago that the major companies had their most profitable year ever? Ibelieve Exxon had profits near a billion, BP couldn't be too far behind. A fine for a major violation is pretty ineffective when at most it represents 5 to 10 percent of one years profit. To be at all effective, a fine must be set as a percentage of operational income or it ceases to be punitive, especially if one thinks about the years of operating as such without a fine.

              Plus, it is very telling that the second largest fine ever was a result of actions in 1991, when all indications are that corporate motivation is pushing more and more to cutting all corners in search of increasingly shameless profits.

              Blessed are the peacemakers, the poor, the meek and the sick. Message to Repug Fundies: "DO you really wonder "what would Jesus do?" I didn't think so.

              by 4CasandChlo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:25:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I think we need to stop calling it violence. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "violence" is an inspecific word. Evidence for that can be found in the recent conjoining of the word with "video games."

      "Abuse" at least implies an agent doing something wrong. A phrase like "spouse abuse" or "child abuse" contains both the agent, the action and the victim.

      We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:06:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good point, but... (11+ / 0-)

    We already have laws to address this.

    The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act has been in place since 2007.

    Also, Ammonium Nitrate is called out specifically in 6 USC Sec 361 with key provisions regarding storage, sale and transportation.

    The blame here is the company that deliberately withheld information to avoid regulation.  The DHS is not tasked with scouring the countryside looking for stockpiles of controlled substances.

    By the way, the law also makes clear that no one can ever purchase Ammonium Nitrate from a facility without verifying that they are registered with the government.

    ‘‘(a) PROHIBITIONS.—
    ‘‘(1) TAKING POSSESSION.—No person shall purchase ammonium
    nitrate from an ammonium nitrate facility unless such
    person is registered under subsection (c) or (d) of section 899B,
    or is an agent of a person registered under subsection (c)
    or (d) of that section.
    ‘‘(2) TRANSFERRING POSSESSION.—An owner of an ammonium
    nitrate facility shall not transfer possession of ammonium
    nitrate from the ammonium nitrate facility to any ammonium
    nitrate purchaser who is not registered under subsection (c)
    or (d) of section 899B, or to any agent acting on behalf of
    an ammonium nitrate purchaser when such purchaser is not
    registered under subsection (c) or (d) of section 899B.
    ‘‘(3) OTHER PROHIBITIONS.—No person shall—
    ‘‘(A) purchase ammonium nitrate without a registration
    number required under subsection (c) or (d) of section 899B;
    ‘‘(B) own or operate an ammonium nitrate facility without
    a registration number required under section 899B(c);
    ‘‘(C) fail to comply with any requirement or violate
    any other prohibition under this subtitle.
    assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of not more than
    $50,000 per violation.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:07:01 AM PDT

    •  I don't have an idea of the size (6+ / 0-)

      I honestly don't know anything about the size of the department tasked with monitoring this stuff, but if it's anything like the USDA, then they probably are understaffed to a degree that the only means of compliance they have is to ask for voluntary sharing of the information, or maybe spot checks of reported issues.

      It sounds a lot to me like West was just another company town, and I can't imagine anyone in a company town like this would put themselves at risk of losing their jobs to report this.

      I just don't think the individuals who might have reported could comprehend the damage possible.  

      Or are we going to discover that there had been reports made by employees that were then withheld?


      by otto on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:15:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is compelled but not proactively searched (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        otto, Cassandra Waites, erush1345, ColoTim

        The idea is that legitimate businesses that deal with Ammonium Nitrate are required to notify the government in order to legally transact business.  It is in their own interest to speak up and severe penalties for not doing so.

        There is an auditing role for the facilities in the database to make sure the record keeping is up to date and the procedures are being followed.  But the DHS is not responsible for searching out any chemical plant, or potential chemical plant, to see if they are over the limit or conducting ammonium nitrate sales unlawfully.

        There is also a specific administrative provision to allow DHS to conduct these processes in conjunction with our agencies (specifically the Dept of Agriculture) so that these steps can be checked and enforced as part of other existing site-visits and inspections.  

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:43:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pretty much as I figured (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kevskos, ColoTim

          I'm sure that the folks in Texas love them some federal investigators, so they probably always comply with the voluntary reporting of the tons of chemicals they have on hand, right?


          by otto on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:55:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Apparently not (0+ / 0-)

            and they should be fined accordingly, but the DHS should not be converted into some kind of Fertilizer-DEA doing sweeps across the fruited plains looking to see who might have piles of very legitimate legal substances that might blow up.

            Its business regulation, not controlled substance enforcement.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:10:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  What is extremely sad is that the same department (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      runs checkpoints all over the country - within 100 miles of the border, but sometimes elsewhere - searching for undocumented immigrants.

      They have the manpower to set up roadblocks and shut down traffic for miles over and over on a very regular basis, but they cannot keep track of the nation's inventory of ammonium nitrate or other dangerous chemicals.

      Individual humans are subject to the maximum oppression of the government, yet corporations, businesses, manufacturers are given free leeway to do as they please, lying, fabricating and "forgetting" to report as necessary.

      To be clear: the DHS operates the Border Patrol, Coast Guard, Customs & Immigrations, etc.  They also have responsibility for tracking ammonium nitrate and many other "security" measures as well.

      The fact that Republicans and Tea Party types have consistently and forcefully pushed the concept of "illegal immigration" as being a "danger" has pushed the funding and department priorities into "border security" when there is danger spread throughout our nation.

      Frankly, I'd prefer DHS be disbanded and a consistent policy formulated that resulted in a broader view of national spending on "security" issues, but that will never happen.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:32:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The multiple layers of (11+ / 0-)

    bureaucracy and complete failure to abide by laws and regulations (and obviously greed) all contributed to this catastrophic incident.  There are thousands of other plants which are time bombs.

    Simple reporting obviously wasn't done pursuant to EPCRA (Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act).  Enforcement responsibilities under this act are delegated to local and state governments.  The local first responders should have had notice of just what hazardous materials were on site and how much.

    Then there's EPA's role in assuring hazardous materials are handled, stored, transported and disposed of  properly.  Add on DOT re: transportation and top it off with DHS requirements.

    Underfunded and understaffed agencies cannot possibly handle the work load.  Texas' laissez-faire attitude regarding enforcement of regulations adds to the problem.  And, as most here have pointed out, fundamental greed and lack of concern for local communities fuels deadly conditions.

    The obvious lack of zoning regulations is a whole other story.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:10:49 AM PDT

    •  In a university (8+ / 0-)

      your department or the university can be fined large sums for improper storage or labeling of very small amounts of toxic substances.  We had to have our MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) materials up to date and readily available to first responders.  My department was fined for relatively minor infractions.

      •  it all depends on the jurisdiction (0+ / 0-)

        The university isn’t subject to those requirements because it’s a university. It’s because there is a jurisdiction there, be it the building code official or fire marshal, who is monitoring and enforcing compliance.

        Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

        by Joe Bob on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:07:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's probably the most fair comment I've (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      read on this topic on DailyKOS.

      There's been a lot of "Zoning!" types of things which I mainly see as "blame the victims."  Many saying such things must not have ever lived in rural towns or counties.

      And there have been other "blame the whole state" comments too, which I see as blame the victims in whole or part. Simply because this happened in Texas, these explosion victims are seen somewhat unsympathetically by many on KOS and that really shocked me.

      I can wholeheartedly endorse your comment. Thank you.

      "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

      by YucatanMan on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:36:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, YucatanMan

        thoughtful reply.  I've just read a slew of blame the victims comments -- e.g. -- some of the first responders worked at the plant so they should have known better; stupid zoning (as you said); they voted for the assholes who want little regulation, etc. etc. etc.

        I've worked 20 years doing enviro law.  Even with that experience, the overwhelming body of regulations are staggering -- and for the most part good.  How is someone who earns hard-scrabble wages and gets no pay to put out fires supposed to know the regulatory requirements plus what the total volume stored is.

        Lots of folks live near hazards -- they just don't effing know it.

        " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

        by gchaucer2 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:09:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  And this is just one plant (7+ / 0-)

    There are dozens of these scattered around Texas. One being just 20 miles from West.

    Personally I think the source of all this excrement is the Governors office.

  •  I can't say this hasn't crossed my mind (5+ / 0-)

    DHS tries to keep tight tabs on the national inventory of this stuff. Keeping a huge stockpile of this stuff secret smells the same as some apocalyptic nut case stockpiling weapons.

  •  OSHA does not regulate ammonium nitrate either. (9+ / 0-)

    Of the only three Federal agencies that regulate hazardous chemicals, DHS is the only one that regulates ammonium nitrate.  DHS is concerned with site security and terrorism, not site safety (how the material is stored, fire protection, etc.)  Therefore, this material falls through the cracks.  

    EPA and OSHA require training of first responders for other hazardous chemicals.  Ammonium nitrate becomes explosive at 400 degrees F as it decomposes into nitrous oxide and water.  The fertilzer industry and farmers probably lobbied EPA and OSHA to ensure this chemical was not included on the list.  The most hazardous substance at the site (if there is a fire) is not regulated by the two Federal agencies charged with site safety.  Once again, corporations prove that corporate responsibility is not enough.

    It is amazing when you consider that the largest industrial accident in this nations history also involved ammonium nitrate. Texas City Disaster

    Anhydrous ammonia is also a concern, but ammonium nitrate will explode long before anhydrous ammonia will even ignite.  
    Texas fertilizer plant: Why was the blast so enormous?

  •  Part and parcel of the right wing culture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, western star

    Death is cool so long as the right kind of people are dealing it out.

  •  Does the Agency even have a Head? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If we are dealing with typical GOP Obstruction, the Agency tasked with oversight probably has never had an Agency Head Approved by the Senate due to some anonymous Senate Hold.  I don't know, but am speculating based on a history of the GOP in the past five years.

    "Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" Will Rogers offering advice to the Republican Party.

    by NM Ray on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:33:41 AM PDT

  •  Good luck (4+ / 0-)

    attempting any strengthening of federal oversight, regarding any subject, anywhere in Texas. Hopefully the terrible suffering of the victims' families will cause some of the blue collar folks in that part of the country to better understand that government has a real role in aiding and protecting them. I haven't seen any sign that Texas state officials or Federal representatives are doing anything in response other than keeping their heads firmly embedded in the sand. Hopefully voters will take it upon themselves to demand more. I'm dubious about that ever happening, but maybe...

  •  The culture of obedience is focused on (6+ / 0-)

    getting compliance from individuals. Since that is the objective, actual investigation of conditions on the ground are not a top priority unless and until there's some disaster prompting a check of the paper-work.  The focus on compliance by individuals enables the "right" people to get away with paying lip service, while the "wrong" people get enforced upon. Evidence of how this works is more recognizable in the pattern we refer to as "DWB."  The plant in West, Texas was doubtless being run by a good ol' boy whose good intentions were beyond question.

    While the costs of discriminatory behavior are doubless born by people who are unfairly excluded from participating and sharing their talents, the whole community is also deprived. The third-world-like economic conditions we see in some of the red states are not a happenstance. They flow from exclusive/inclusive attitudes which reward compliance and punish innovation and independence. Republican championship of independence is a sham. Either that, or the object is so independents will self-identify and be more easily excluded.

    "birds of a feather"

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:51:01 AM PDT

  •  DHS lets fertilizer plants self-report and "safety (3+ / 0-)

    ..."oversight" isn't "triggered" until or unless a plant self-reports to DHS that they have enough ammonium nitrate to alert the DHS to come in and check them out?  

    "...the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do...
    West fertilizer "did not tell DHS"?? DHS waits for fertilizer plants to tell DHS to come in and check them out?  

    What is DHS thinking to allow such a dangerous material to be regulated by "self-reporting" by plants that have a self interest in not reporting things that would result in regulators coming in and interfering with production and/or, in giving the plant costly citations?  

    What could possibly go wrong with DHS's handing over responsibility for making sure that the plants follow safety the plants themselves?  

    leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there...
    •  I'm left wondering where it came from and why (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the place that shipped it to this West site didn't report to DHS that it had shipped this dangerous material to West.  Did it travel over rail lines or roads?  Wouldn't that be on some manifest someplace?  I guess we've got lots of terrorist materials being shipped willy-nilly all over this country, available to be stolen or lost and nobody will be the wiser.

      Then again, that kind of record-keeping exists for things like nuclear material, but businesses have steadfastly refused to increase security of chemical and similar facilities since 9/11 despite plenty of evidence they can be terrorist targets themselves.

  •  Random thought: did someone mix "ton" and "pound"? (0+ / 0-)

    270 pounds seems like too low an inventory, but 270 tons seems too high.

    Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:10:28 AM PDT

  •  It's really strange what we Americans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fastwacks, shaharazade, ColoTim, Jim P

    are obsessed about - namely, one of the biggest things is "terrorism" (let's no worry about precisely defining it right now).

    When terrorism kills and harms virtually no one.

    Compared to - for example - industrial "accidents" such as the West Texas clusterfuck.  There are about 13 such fatalities each day - pretty much silently.

    And that's one of the more minor, needless killers in this country  (compared to tobacco at 400K deaths per year, fossil fuel pollution at 30 to 500K deaths, alcohol at 100K, hospitals at 98K, cars at 30+K, guns at about the same level, and so on)

    It's almost like there's a concerted effort out there to keep Americans living in fear of ghosts to keep the $1.2 trillion/year gravy train rolling.

    •  exactly (7+ / 0-)

      "Terrorism" kills fewer people per year on average than lightning does. The average person has a better chance of being killed by a bee sting than by a terrorist oh noes !!!!! It is, frankly, a non-issue.

      Yet we pee our pants hysterically over it and happily dismantle our entire democracy to "protect" ourselves from it.

      As a society, we have lost our goddamn minds.

    •  Mass-reach Media, controlled by the 1%s (0+ / 0-)

      interests, is the linchpin, the indispensable agitation/propaganda machine, to keep the people mal-informed. Alerting the public to real dangers would hurt profits and power, and so isn't done.

      And we have the most ubiquitous and sophisticated agit/prop machine in all of human history.

      If tomorrow mass-reach Media started to focus on, oh, the dangers safety pins pose to us, within a short time, even here, that's mainly what people will be talking about (whether to support it or rebut it).

      As long as the media -- and mind you they reach 100% of the people within 48 hours, including those without tv and radio -- gets to set narratives without any real input from the people, we have what we have. And that's a losing hand.


      Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

      by Jim P on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  WaPo: "How Common Is This?" (4+ / 0-)

    So how many fertilizer plants are there in the United States?

    According to a report from the Fertilizer Institute, there are 44 production plants around the country. And 30 of those are nitrogen plants...

    But notice that West, Texas isn’t on that map. That’s because the fertilizer facility that exploded wasn’t a production plant. It was a retail facility, one of approximately 6,000 around the country that sells directly to farmers in a 50- to 100-mile radius.

    There is no national list of retail facilities, but each state registers and regulates them,” Kathy Mathers, VP of Public Affairs at The Fertilizer Institute...*

    The article goes on to ask:
    How common are explosions?

    Based on data from the Guardian, there have been at least 16 unintended explosions of ammonium nitrate since 1921 that have led to casualties. Six of those have occurred in the United States...

    Maybe it's time for citizens to demand that their representatives enact and enforce more stringent regulation of this industry with plants scattered all over the country, and since it is a growth industry:

    ...How big is the U.S. fertilizer industry?

    In 2011, the U.S. fertilizer industry reported some $10 billion in revenues. The United States as a whole shipped about $4.5 billion worth of fertilizer overseas and imported another $13 billion worth...

    Is the U.S. fertilizer industry growing?

    Yes, and fast. Mainly because the United States is now awash in cheap natural gas... A great deal of fertilizer is synthesized from atmospheric nitrogen and natural gas — that was likely the case with the ammonia stored in the retail facility in West, Texas...

    ...But the fracking boom has given the United States its own cheap shale gas, and producers are now returning home...

    ...Meanwhile, the global demand for fertilizer keeps growing...the world’s appetite for nitrogen, phosphate and potash has been rising quickly since then...

  •  It's ironic, but Jordan has stricter rules than US (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melfunction, teacherken, jan4insight

    When working in Jordan, we wanted to build a NITROUS OXIDE (laughing gas) plant, for which the main raw material is ammonium nitrate, there were a shit load of regulations concerning its storage, including distance from residences, and blast proof storage underground.

    Might be that Jordan, with its large Palestinian refugee community has a better perception of the risks of ammonium nitrate.

  •  security theater combined with regulatory capture (0+ / 0-)

    and not to suggest the obvious overreaction that all such incidents produce.
    what's on your train track?

    and in this case what was in the boxcar(s) at the site?..if there were any actual boxcars with some material, unidentified in the article that mentioned it.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:03:04 PM PDT

  •  The Largest non-nuclear explosion ever (0+ / 0-)

    was in Germany in (I think) the 30's.  It was ammonium nirtrate at a fertiliser plant.  That stuff is dangerous.  Most of the terrorist bombs in Northern Ireland were ammonium nitrate plus kerosene until Ghaddafi or some other malcontent gave the IRA Semtex.

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