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, and injured more than 680 people. 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?