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Smoke rises as water is sprayed at the burning remains of a fertilizer plant after an explosion at the plant in the town of West, near Waco, Texas early April 18, 2013. The deadly explosion ripped through the fertilizer plant late on Wednesday, injuring m
The cause of the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion that killed at least 14 and injured 200, as well as destroying dozens of buildings, is still unknown and the damage is still being assessed, but even without the full story known, plenty of toxic Texas politics has been on display. Texas politicians are eager for the federal disaster aid they voted against when it was New York and New Jersey that needed it in the wake of Sandy, and the zoning laws that let a school and homes be right across the street from a fertilizer plant should be a scandal. And it's become clear that, whatever the immediate cause of the explosion, the plant was a menace to its workers and the town, enabled by Texas-style weak regulation and oversight.

StateImpact Texas points out that at some points in 2012, the plant stored more than 100 times as much ammonium nitrate as Timothy McVeigh used in the Oklahoma City bombing. The plant, meanwhile, had no sprinklers or fire barriers, but had been burning wood pallets in recent months. Such a disregard for safety doesn't just create the conditions for fires and explosions, it also creates additional dangers for first responders, and the West Fertilizer Co. plant wasn't the first such situation in Texas in recent years. For instance:

In 2011, a fire started at the Magnablend chemical plant in Waxahachie. Locals had to be evacuated. But first responders didn’t know what chemicals were inside or that the building didn’t have adequate sprinklers.
In the West explosion, the majority of those killed were indeed first responders, who did not have any way of knowing the scope of what they faced. And those killed deserve to be remembered despite the fertilizer plant explosion having happened in the same week as the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent dramatic hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. As Richard Kim writes:
What separates these victims from one another? Surely not innocence, for they are all innocent, and they all deserve to be mourned. And yet the blunt and awful truth is that, as a nation, we pay orders of magnitude more attention to the victims of terrorism than we do to the over 4,500 Americans killed each year while on the job. As former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis once put it, “Every day in America, thirteen people go to work and never come home.” Very little is ever said in public about the vast majority of these violent and unnecessary deaths. And even when a spectacular tragedy manages to capture our collective attention—as the West explosion briefly did, as the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster did three years before—it is inconceivable that such an event would be constituted as a permanent emergency of world-historic proportions.
Whatever precise combination of accident and chemicals and lack of safety precautions caused the West explosion, chances are, it was political. Not political in the sense that someone actively intended or tried to cause damage, but in the sense that it was made possible by a state government with intentionally weak safety and environmental regulations and federal and state governments that don't put the needed resources toward enforcing what regulations should apply to a place like the West Fertilizer Co. Political in the sense that as a society we basically have agreed that disasters like this are, as Kim puts it, "the presumed cost of living in a modern, industrialized economy." We should take disasters like this one as a reminder of the recklessness with human life that our political and economic systems tolerate and even encourage.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM PDT.

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

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (134+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Hubbard Squash, mungley, MA Liberal, Steven D, bloomer 101, allergywoman, Buckeye54, noweasels, Nina Katarina, Thomas Twinnings, FogCityJohn, Mr Robert, FoundingFatherDAR, efrenzy, CorinaR, Involuntary Exile, Polly Syllabic, BentLiberal, maryabein, slowbutsure, cordgrass, commonmass, Gowrie Gal, jbob, Debby, Thinking Fella, renzo capetti, kevinpdx, hnichols, maggiejean, aaraujo, IreGyre, kenwards, ontheleftcoast, jan4insight, Bugsydarlin, Smoh, trumpeter, DRo, MidwestTreeHugger, countwebb, BachFan, Sychotic1, DerAmi, nzanne, Bluesee, marleycat, Cronesense, Its any one guess, ericlewis0, markdd, mightymouse, northsylvania, jakedog42, Desert Rose, Simplify, mayim, defluxion10, rapala, cececville, rlharry, Laurel in CA, cybersaur, BlueInARedState, legendmn, johnosahon, TX Unmuzzled, GeorgeXVIII, RichM, forgore, jck, tampaedski, LaFeminista, anodnhajo, just another vet, armadillo, PDiddie, leeleedee, asm121, BeninSC, davehouck, Catte Nappe, Empower Ink, Albanius, Siri, viral, EJP in Maine, zerelda, Mentatmark, pat bunny, orangecurtainlib, LinSea, pgm 01, a2nite, akmk, ninkasi23, thomask, swampyankee, howabout, RageKage, Kevskos, Grandma Susie, sethtriggs, dotdash2u, weinerschnauzer, gchaucer2, jay23, Mr MadAsHell, Eyesbright, skohayes, Supavash, dewtx, David M Landreth, Tinfoil Hat, jacey, non acquiescer, onionjim, LilithGardener, cynndara, VTelder, JayRaye, texasteamster, 417els, science nerd, cocinero, Brian1066, skyounkin, stvnjon, joynow, Larsstephens, jayden, artmanfromcanuckistan, JerryNA
    •  Criminal negligence or recklessness (25+ / 0-)

      knowingly storing a highly explosive substance on site, while lying to regulators and telling them there is such a minimal risk of fire or explosion that you are not required to have fire suppression equipment, and failing to notify your local volunteer fire department (your neighbors, for crying out loud), strikes me as far worse than the usual "negligent homicide" facts that are more like running a red light.

      •  Actually, he was required to have sprinklers, (6+ / 0-)

        but didn't.
        I just read this article which may explain the lack of inspections (which won't surprise anyone):

        s has been reported, the fertilizer plant hadn't been inspected by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 1985, when the company was fined $30. It isn't clear yet why exactly the workplace went nearly three decades without further inspections from OSHA, but none of the possibilities is encouraging.

        The fertilizer facility may have been exempt from some forms of OSHA scrutiny, owing to the fact that it's a small employer. Due to a rider that has been attached by Congress to agency funding for years, OSHA can't perform certain inspections of workplaces that have 10 or fewer employees and whose industries have low injury rates. Lawmakers reason that small businesses shouldn't have to shoulder the same costs of compliance as larger ones.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

        Less regulations on small business leads to not only disasters like the one in Texas, but injured workers who often end up without compensation or even health care for their work related injuries.

        “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

        by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:08:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  OSHA wouldn't inspect without cause anyway (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cynndara, skohayes, Bob Love, joynow
          Before OSHA can consider conducting an inspection, they must have legal probable cause to do so. When the inspector arrives and announces his or her intent to conduct an investigation, you have a right to ask the inspector for credentials and inquire as to the basis for the inspection before agreeing to allow it to proceed.

          Typically, the inspector will inform you that (s)he is there because:
           1.
          A written employee complaint alleging a hazard was filed;

          2.
          There has been an accident (in some instances you must notify OSHA of an accident within 8 hours where there has been an employee fatality, or three or more employees who have been injured and required medical treatment in one incident); or

          3.
          OSHA selected your company for an inspection based upon a program developed by the agency to address or target a specific workplace hazard (e.g., lead, asbestos, forklifts, etc.).

          http://ehstoday.com/...

          "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

          by Catte Nappe on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:22:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They don't come every time (0+ / 0-)

            you have an accident though, unless there's a death.
            If they come to your farm or your factory, you could probably not let them in, but that isn't an action I would recommend to anyone.

            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

            by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:36:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  FEMA has all kinds of rules (5+ / 0-)

      There's a couple of different types of assistance, including individual assistance to people who are impacted, loans to businesses, and funding to local jurisdictions who are overwhelmed with repair obligations.  But here's the thing- the money is by no means unlimited and there's all kinds of program rules that are in place to prevent abuse.

      Like this one, which seems so apropos:

      "No assistance will be provided to an applicant for damages caused by its own negligence through failure to take reasonable protective measures. If negligence by another party results in damages, assistance may be provided on the condition that the applicant agrees to cooperate with FEMA in all efforts to recover the cost of such assistance from the negligent party."

      That's in the guidelines for Public Assistance (roads, infrastructure, etc.).  If the community goes for this funding, it comes with the obligation to get reimbursement from any negligent party. They may want to let stuff slide as "act of god" if the investigation has unclear results, but good luck getting that past FEMA officials who have been hauled in front of hostile sub-committees.

      "I'm not a humanitarian. I'm a hell-raiser." Mother Jones

      by histopresto on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:49:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  More amazing photos (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, 417els

      To give you a sense of how much harm was caused by corporate negligence.

      http://www.dallasnews.com/...

      "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." -- Vaclav Havel

      by greendem on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:30:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't seen any photos of the schools (0+ / 0-)

        or the playground, just the apartment building and a few of the nursing home.

        Were the schools damaged much? Are pictures of the schools being discouraged?

        "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

        by Bob Love on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:09:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  3 of 5 schools were damaged...they went back today (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Love

          SEE: CBSDFW: Damage to schools in West, TX.

          WWLTV.com Photo Gallery is pretty complete with 111 photos - not just schools of course. The Middle school took the worst hit, being just a couple of yards down the same street as that apartment complex.

          When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

          by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:42:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is closed air space around the area. You (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bob Love

          don't need that kind of information.  Same thing happened in BP gulf - closed to air so no pictures can be taken.  Same as Keystone leak in Arkansas.  Closed air space, etc.  They need to keep the press out and information frozen.

          Why aren't these owners of the plant and those running the facility in jail?  They killed these people because of deliberate neglect and using dangerous home made rules for running the plant.

          What happened to those 40 - 60 - 80? people who were missing?  We they just vaporized?

          I know how bad everything in Boston was - 3 died and 200 hurt.  This factory had 14 dead, hundreds hurt and a large number missing and unaccounted for.  Where is all press?  BOSTON!  I say this plant is the same kind of terror conducted by people who didn't give a hoot who they killed.  A lot of those who were killed were first responders.

          And to think that Senator Cruz wants the taxpayer to pony up to take care of the people.  This is a problem with Texas regulators and private insurance.  

          But back to your question:  the area is being blocked off to the press.  No pictures.  The same that has happened in all of the CORPORATE catastrophies in the last few years.  No pictures because it is none of your business.

          •  in the Texas City ammonium nitrate explosions (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bob Love

            in 1947 something like 590 people were confirmed dead. There was thought to be a couple of hundred unaccounted. for. The presumption was 'blown to bits' or 'turned to dust'. Body bits came ashore for a very long time. (The explosion was docked ships and land facilities, they were just blown out to sea. No DNA testing then)
            Crazy things happened with the power of that blast even at a very great distance.

            I did read that there were just a few unaccounted for in West now. I can understand why there would be a delay... since obviously survivors had to get out and no one was allowed back in the area.

            Texas city was decades ago... but it sure seems like it would have made a deeper impression that would endure, maybe especially in Texas.
            As far as inspections... regulations get weaker but also funding cuts have castrated many such agencies.

            There is more secrecy with  ammonium nitrate too, terrorism risks evidently rank higher than safety risks. As reporters delve in now some places/agencies are going to court to block having to release any info on what they have, citing security. Read that in some Dallas paper the other day... in fact they were one of the papers being blocked and fighting it.  Basically if a factory near you has this or some other scary things... you won't know.

            I ache that our congressional bodies aren't filled with intelligent, thoughtful people debating true solutions. Reasoned discussions, not the show kind where no one listens, no real response, spinning crap
            We could force more, bottom up stuff... but the spin draws in plenty of people or turns off many more. We don't move en masse.
            It kills people slowly or suddenly, body and/or soul.
            Truth is 'blown to bits' or 'turned to dust'  

            Especially in America. Really, what is wrong with us?

      •  N. REAGAN...street sign in front of destroyed bldg (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cocinero, marty marty

        is rather ironic/apropos isn't it?

        The Pope of Deregulation's name front and center of a catastrophe that was allowed to happen through demonization of safety inspections and regulations.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:04:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A failure in zoning and city planning... (29+ / 0-)

    ... the West, Texas disaster is. Consult an engineer, they should.

    Whoa, I wasn't trying to sound like Yoda but why not.

    This is what happens when people corporations make the rules. Texas should be a warning for the rest of us. People complain about zoning, but it's there to protect the public.

    Civil engineers will be a big part of this nation's recovery, if we are willing to let them do their jobs. Don't try, do!

    Some would say that I'm off my gourd. I would say that I am a gourd.

    by Hubbard Squash on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:50:16 AM PDT

    •  City planning? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian1066

      In a town with less than 3000 residents? Zoning?
      This is Texas, man, people don't need no stinking zoning laws!
      I moved out west here from the east coast, I know what zoning is good for, and you're right, it does protect the public.
      But they're just not crowded enough out here to really think about it.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:12:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We should suspend the constitution! (31+ / 0-)

    And the plant owner should be sent to Gitmo to be prosecuted by a Military court.  I mean, more people did die in Texas thanks to his violation of American law than died in Boston.

    < snark just to be clear >

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:52:55 AM PDT

    •  And still no arrest? (11+ / 0-)

      The people responsible for the explosion are not hiding on a boat.

      They prefer to call it a yacht.

      This better be good. Because it is not going away.

      by DerAmi on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:24:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There will not be any arrests... (8+ / 0-)

        Except for maybe a low-level shift manager.

        'Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost' - Ronald Reagan, Communist

        by RichM on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:08:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  why should anyone be arrested yet? (7+ / 0-)

        they still don't know the cause.

        The plant had closed. Its employees had gone home for the day.

        Now if it turns out some jerk pitched a hot butt out the window into dry grass and set this fire, yeah, verily, he should never walk beneath the Texas sky as a free man again.

        That is exactly the kind of risk a grass fire is in rural America.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:41:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is exactly the kind of risk… (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Supavash

          Uh, no.
          Violating zoning laws is not the same.
          The jerk, is guy in charge of the plant.

          •  Violating what zoning laws? (0+ / 0-)

            Violating common sense may have occured here, but so far there's no indication any zoning laws pertain at all.

            "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

            by Catte Nappe on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:24:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Uh, no. You have to have a zoning law before (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cynndara, Brian1066

            you can break it. West is incorporated in McLellan County. My bet is if there's any zoning at all (keep in mind that the county cannot zone property use under the Dillon Rule, on which the Texas Lege bases its control of who can do what with the land they own or the water thereunto appurtenant -- or other mineral rights, which are more often than not sold separately), it's of the "gotta maintain x number of feet between Smith's water well and Doe's septic tank".

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:25:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  here's a reference for the (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NT Toons

              Texas zoning laws that may or may not be relevant, which I basically stole off Wikipedia just now:
              See also: List of counties in Texas

              Texas has a total of 254 counties, by far the largest number of counties of any state.

              Each county is run by a five-member Commissioners' Court consisting of four commissioners elected from single-member districts (called commissioner precincts) and a county judge elected at-large. The county judge does not have authority to veto a decision of the commissioners court; the judge votes along with the commissioners (being the tie-breaker in close calls). In smaller counties, the county judge actually does perform judicial duties, but in larger counties the judge's role is limited to serving on the commissioners court and certifying elections. Certain officials, such as the sheriff and tax collector, are elected separately by the voters, but the commissioners court determines their office budgets, and sets overall county policy. All county elections are partisan, and commissioner precincts are redistricted after each ten year Census both to equalize the voting power in each and in consideration of the political party preferences of the voters in each.

              Counties also have much less legal power than home rule municipalities. They cannot pass ordinances (local laws with penalties for violations) like cities can. Counties in Texas do not have zoning power (except for limited instances around some reservoirs, military establishments, historic sites and airports, and in large counties over "communication facility structures": visible antennas). However, counties can collect a small portion of property tax and spend it to provide residents with needed services or to employ the power of eminent domain. Counties also have the power to regulate outdoor lighting near observatories and military bases. Counties do not have "home rule" authority; whatever powers they enjoy are specifically granted by the State (as an example, most counties have no authority to sanction property owners whose lands fill with weeds and trash).

              Unlike other states, Texas does not allow for consolidated city-county governments. Cities and counties (as well as other political entities) are permitted to enter "interlocal agreements" to share services (for instance, a city and a school district may enter into agreements with the county whereby the county bills for and collects property taxes for the city and school district; thus, only one tax bill is sent instead of three). Texas does allow municipalities to merge, but populous Harris County, Texas consolidating with its primary city, Houston, Texas, to form the nation's second largest city (after New York City) is not a prospect under current law.

              LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

              by BlackSheep1 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:28:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The plant was probably not in West proper (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BlackSheep1

              If you go on Google Maps and type in West, TX, you'll see the city and its boundaries.  Which run right through the southern end of the West Fertilizer site, drawn specifically so as to exclude the bulk of the site, including the big anhydrous tanks.  So it was mostly under county jurisdiction.  The residences nearby were in the city, as was the middle school but not the high school.

        •  They may have been burning wooden pallets in a (0+ / 0-)

          "controlled" fire possibly, as they'd done that in Feb this year.

          When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

          by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:13:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Except that was done during business hours (0+ / 0-)

            in the previous instance. Everyone had gone home, the grounds were supposed to be empty.

            LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

            by BlackSheep1 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:42:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Can we (0+ / 0-)

        Hide them UNDER the boat?

    •  It's not exactly snark (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, dewtx, 417els, marty marty

      when it's exactly what Lindsey Graham said about the Boston killer.  It's more like a very eerie reflection of reality...

      A person's word used to be their contract, now people use contracts to get out of keeping their word.

      by bitpyr8 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:51:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just the same comment I was going to post. (8+ / 0-)

    The behavior of the plant operators should be akin to murder.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:55:46 AM PDT

    •  Hommicide (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VTelder, a2nite, marty marty

      Due to gross criminal negligence.

    •  People seem to be under the impression (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Havoth, shmuelman

      that this was a manufacturing plant. It wasn't. It was a distributorship for fertilizer.
      There are no "plant operators", the guy had 8 employees.
      Here's a satellite picture Kos posted in a diary over the weekend:

      West Fertilizer is on the right of the picture.
      The thing everyone keeps calling a plant is a big storage shed, a few buildings and some old grain tanks. There are tanks for anyhydrous ammonia that you can see in pictures taken after the fire. A large tank for storage of anhydrous.
      That's about it.
      Now, if the fire department didn't know that he was storing ammonium nitrate and sprayed water on it, if the conditions were right, it would have blown sky high. That would be criminal negligence, and even if the guy is 80 years old, there should be consequences for his negligence. But he's not some corporate guy who makes millions a year in bonuses, he's just an old man who sells fertilizer to farmers.
      But I'd really like to find out what started the fire before we start calling for the man's head on a plate.

      “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

      by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:30:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about the 'secret' storage of volatile (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes

        chemicals?  That were stored in a very dangerous manner?  I assume not accounted for in inventory records?

        Also, seems I've read that the place had 8 employees in 1985, when it was last inspected, but today has many more workers which puts it over the OSHA threshold.

        My memory may well be wrong, though.  Wall to wall repetitious coverage of what happened in Boston and Texas has been mind-numbing the past several days...had to bow out for sanity's sake.

        "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

        by 417els on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:30:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Good post, but a couple of clarifiers here: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shmuelman, skohayes

        It is a plant. They mix the anhydrous ammonia with the solid materials (nitrate, etc) and store (before shipping) large amounts of ammonium nitrate (the end results). They are next to a railroad for receiving and shipping, but that railroad section is closed because of the blast.  

        From the Waco Tribune

        The company mixes dry fertilizer and stores anhydrous ammonia in large tanks. Anhydrous ammonia is known to be explosive at high temperatures. It is used in making ammonium nitrate, the key ingredient in the 1995 bomb at the federal building in Oklahoma City and the cause of the 1947 Texas City explosion that killed more than 580 people.

        McLennan County AgriLife Extension Agent Shane McLellan said the anhydrous ammonia was trucked in, stored in tanks and dispensed directly to farmers under tight regulations. It was not mixed with other ingredients, he said.

        Also from Wfaa.com
        Of greatest concern was up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, which the owner had properly reported to state authorities. Reporting the existence of ammonium nitrate is important because of the chemical's well-known potential to explode...By itself, when properly ventilated, the chemical is considered safe. So what caused the chemical to explode in West?

        Explosion and pipeline safety expert Don Deaver said the likely trigger is the fire that raged just feet away from the storage building on Wednesday night.

        From the MSDS on ammonium nitrate
        Section 5: Fire and Explosion Data
        Flammability of the Product: May be combustible at high temperature.
        Auto-Ignition Temperature: 300°C (572°F)
        Flash Points: CLOSED CUP: Higher than 93.3°C (200°F).
        Fire Hazards in Presence of Various Substances:
        Slightly flammable to flammable in presence of heat, of combustible materials, of organic materials.
        Risks of explosion of the product in presence of mechanical impact: N/A. Slightly explosive in presence of heat, of combustible materials, of organic
        materials, of metals.
        Fire Fighting Media and Instructions:
        Oxidizing material. Do not use water jet. Use flooding quantities of water. Avoid contact with organic materials.
        Special Remarks on Fire Hazards:
        Caution: Strong Oxidizer. Contact with material may cause a fire. Contact with combustible or organic materials may cause fire.
        Special Remarks on Explosion Hazards:
        It is an oxidizing agent and can self-ignite/detonate when in contact with powdered metals and some organic materials such as Urea and Acetic Acid.

        When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

        by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:36:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They don't mix the anhydrous (0+ / 0-)

          As your link says, they store anhydrous (which is a liquid), and mix dry fertilizers.
          That being said, they reported the storage of the ammonium nitrate to the state authorities, but would the local volunteer fire department have been aware of that (you would think so, but then why were they using water near it?)?
          Here's what one person told me in another thread about this last week:

          Yes, you are right. AN + heat + (6+ / 0-)
          H2O = a very large bang.

          A small amount of water relative to AN fire can accelerate the reaction. A very large amount of water is needed to suppress this kind of fire. One fire unit just will not cut it and that is why I too suspect that they didn't know what they were dealing with.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:41:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think the "man's head on a plate" is the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes

        real issue in the end. It is of course lax / nonexistent regulation and oversight. I have hear that fire fighters will not enter McMansion style houses because of the toxic insulation and the rate that the houses burn. Going into a "not a plant" like this and spraying water is clearly deadly. Maybe the owner / operator did nothing wrong at all - after all, accidents happen. It is the fact that it adjoins an apartment building that is the issue.

        "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

        by shmuelman on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:33:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, those are all salient points (0+ / 0-)

          but the apartment house, schools and nursing homes were all built after the fertilizer place was already there.
          As one person stated in the article above, no one thought anything about it.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:45:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We could use Molly Ivins about now (21+ / 0-)

    to comment on TX GOP and lack of regulations.  No doubt some of her past zingers are relative to this disaster.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 11:57:15 AM PDT

    •  Having been in Fort Worth (7+ / 0-)

      when a chemical plant exploded in 2005 (northsylvania refers to the street mentioned in the post) , hell yes, Texas' record on health and safety vs. their "friendly business climate" should definitely be explored. Business owners will work under the law. Point is, the laws should be better, much better.

      You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

      by northsylvania on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:43:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Texas GOP or Obama OSHA? (0+ / 0-)
      the plant was a menace to its workers and the town, enabled by Texas-style weak regulation and oversight
      Not sure about the town, but the workers' safety was the responsibility of OSHA, not the town or Texas.  And it has been Democrats in charge of the executive branch for the last 4+ years.
      •  Are you just stopping in from redstate? (0+ / 0-)

        Nice to see you!

        Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

        by Bob Johnson on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 07:14:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry... my bad - I forget that in Texas the state (0+ / 0-)

          GOP is responsible for workplace safety, not the federal OSHA.

          •  But you're wrong. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JerryNA

            This plant hasn't been inspected for 28 years.

            Documents reviewed by The Huffington Post indicate that the last time regulators performed a full safety inspection of the facility was nearly 28 years ago. The entity with primary authority to ensure workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, last visited in 1985, according to OSHA records.
            And state regulators did nothing:
            In 2006, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the primary enforcer of environmental law in the state, noted that two schools were situated within 3,000 feet of the fertilizer plant. But the agency determined that "the impact potential" of an accident on the neighboring community "was low."
            As for Texas, it's home to more dangerous industrial accidents than any other state in the Union:

            Texas -- a state famous for its size and stature -- claims an outsize share of the country's industrial accidents.

            As of May 2012, the state held 1,827 facilities deemed at risk of toxic or flammable chemical accidents, about one-tenth of all those in the nation, according to data from the EPA’s Risk Management Program as tabulated by the Right-to-Know Network, a non-profit government watchdog. Yet the state was responsible for nearly 50 percent of the evacuations and property damage costs caused by accidents at such plants over the previous five years, according to a Huffington Post review of the data.
            So, yeah, you're probably a right wing troll.

            Calling other DKos members "weenies" is a personal insult and therefore against site rules.

            by Bob Johnson on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:07:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm wrong about what? (0+ / 0-)
              This plant hasn't been inspected for 28 years.
              Documents reviewed by The Huffington Post indicate that the last time regulators performed a full safety inspection of the facility was nearly 28 years ago. The entity with primary authority to ensure workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, last visited in 1985, according to OSHA records.
              Um... OSHA?  But I thought this was the Texas GOP's fault... are you a Red State troll?
              And state regulators did nothing:
              In 2006, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the primary enforcer of environmental law in the state, noted that two schools were situated within 3,000 feet of the fertilizer plant. But the agency determined that "the impact potential" of an accident on the neighboring community "was low."
              That's not workplace safety, which is what I was commenting on.  I said nothing about environmental regulations.
              As of May 2012, the state held 1,827 facilities deemed at risk of toxic or flammable chemical accidents, about one-tenth of all those in the nation, according to data from the EPA’s Risk Management Program as tabulated by the Right-to-Know Network, a non-profit government watchdog. Yet the state was responsible for nearly 50 percent of the evacuations and property damage costs caused by accidents at such plants over the previous five years, according to a Huffington Post review of the data.
              Means nothing without more rigorous analysis of the data.  Texas is a big oil and gas state.  There's a good chance that their facilities are bigger (energy facilities tend to be BIG) and more likely to go "Boom!" than facilities in other states that deal with toxic industrial chemicals.
  •  How many disasters awaiting in (24+ / 0-)

    all 50 States due to lax regulation and lack of smart zoning laws?  While Texas is on display here, I'm sure we could find similar disasters just waiting to happen elsewhere.

  •  criminally negligent/homicide (11+ / 0-)

    Monsanto is poison,gotta be stopped. Can't afford rich people anymore;must cut back. People like Dick Cheney are evil, don't belong in government. We need @ 9 different revolutions in this country, and may they all crossoverlap soon..

    by renzo capetti on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:11:02 PM PDT

  •  The stupid it burns but the corrupt explodes... (6+ / 0-)

    and sometimes it is both at the same time.... burning stupidity and exploding corruptions or is it the other way around?

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:15:02 PM PDT

  •  Volunteer firefighting force decimated in Texas (35+ / 0-)

    I saw this a few days ago but haven't seen any references here to the cuts made to volunteer firefighters by Gov Perry and the Texas legislature.

    Texas firefighters have been particularly pressed in recent years. With volunteer fire departments protecting 80 percent of the state, Texas was hit by the largest wildfire season in its history. Moreover, the Texas legislature and Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently cut by 70 percent a key grant program that funds volunteer fire departments. Some departments had volunteers battling out-of-control wildfires in street clothes, a potentially dangerous situation. The Grant Assistance fund used by the Texas Forest Service was cut last year to $14 million, down from the $50 million available in 2010-11.
    The costs of "austerity" are staggering.

    Volunteer firefighting force decimated in Texas fertilizer plant explosion

    •  But it shouldn't even be all that expensive (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DerAmi, dotdash2u, marty marty

      for a local volunteer force to know the one or two places in town NOT to go . ..

      Somehow there's something way more nefarious at play here than a simple lack of funding.

      •  But the politics show a complete (13+ / 0-)

        lack of respect for the first responders. Instead the money is passed on up to the people who already have money. Where is, in contrast, the funding to provide the oversight of the industries that are willfully putting communities in danger? Instead the focus is on tax cuts.

        This better be good. Because it is not going away.

        by DerAmi on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:28:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  noweasels has a tribute diary on the victims (10+ / 0-)

        Many were volunteer firefighters and several worked for the fertilizer company.

        •  OK, then it's doubly puzzling that they (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotdash2u, marty marty

          didn't stay away

          Seriously, I guess none of them were fans of the cable TV series "Greatest Engineering Disasters"? that at least once a month had an episode about massive chemical explosions?  And how the best (and really only) strategy was to retreat to a safe distance (or, to put it another way "run for your freakin' life") until the fuel source had played itself out?

          The main point being - there's not a huge expense in making this information known.  Just what went wrong here, especially in light of the information in your post?

          •  They didn't stay away because it was their job to (10+ / 0-)

            put out the fire for their town.  You know, duty and caring about your town.  Why they didn't blow the whistle on the problems, is a question that only the dead can answer.

            •  No I don't know (0+ / 0-)

              where in the USA is it a duty to walk (or run) into a death trap where your presence is utterly futile?

              That is quite a different scenario than being sent to "put out a fire"

              In any event, if there are such places where the former is expected, hopefully this disaster will provide some impetus to change things.  But somehow I suspect that even in Texas that is not the case and something else went wrong along the way.

            •  It was NOT their job (9+ / 0-)

              I'm a volunteer firefighter, and the training in our department constantly stresses this theme: You do no one any good by becoming a victim yourself. We plan how we would deal with fires involving the major structures in our community, and in some cases--such as a facility with a large propane tank--we acknowledge that there just isn't any safe way to put the fire out. Instead, we decide how far away we'd have to stay to avoid becoming injured or killed in an explosion.

              And that is not just a local policy. From Essentials of Fire Fighting (the International Fire Service Training Association textbook):

              Upon arriving at the scene, the officer in charge has to decide whether it is safe and/or feasible to attempt an emergency operation. ...The IC [incident commander]  must decide when the risks involved...are great enough to warrant limiting the actions of fire fighting personnel...
              The function of the fire service is not to add victims to the situation. The IC's first priority must be firefighter safety; the second priority is the victim's safety. The IC should never choose a course of action that requires firefighters to take unnecessary risks.
              •  Remember, they may not have known the hazard (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                skohayes, tacet

                It seems possible nobody knew there was ammonium nitrate there.

                "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

                by Catte Nappe on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:30:11 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nobody knew? (4+ / 0-)

                  When our department draws up pre-fire plans, we talk to the folks in charge of each establishment about the risks there, and get permission to visit the site for a practice run.

                  There's a difference between "regulatory authorities weren't told" and "nobody knew".

                •  That's what I'm thinking too (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dotdash2u, a2nite, Catte Nappe

                  Would they have been using water if they knew that there was ammonium nitrate there?

                  “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

                  by skohayes on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:38:35 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Water is ok to use but not in a way (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    skohayes, Catte Nappe

                    that pushes the stuff into organic or combustible materials. Like a fire hose shoving some onto a burning pallet. Oxidizes rapidly with that action- in other words, explodes. Water to "flood" is ok. See link for MSDS in above post of mine.

                    When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

                    by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:44:02 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Hey Catte, see my post above with links (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Catte Nappe

                  from Wfaa.com

                      Of greatest concern was up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, which the owner had properly reported to state authorities. Reporting the existence of ammonium nitrate is important because of the chemical's well-known potential to explode...By itself, when properly ventilated, the chemical is considered safe. So what caused the chemical to explode in West?

                      Explosion and pipeline safety expert Don Deaver said the likely trigger is the fire that raged just feet away from the storage building on Wednesday night.

                  When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

                  by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:40:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  oftentimes a let it burn order (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dotdash2u, a2nite

              is standard.

              When an oil tank burns, they let them burn out

            •  stay away? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DRo, Bugsydarlin, 417els, marty marty

              They didn't blow the whistle because they need the jobs very badly, they aren't scientist or engineers and so did not know the potential dangers, they are used to residential and ranch fires and staying away is not an option...

              What went wrong is the virulently anti-Federal-government attitude of our state "leaders". The last inspection was in 1985, I've read.
              You know..."OSHA interferes with your rights, costs jobs, and us macho Texans can take care of our own..."

              Duty and caring is for small town firefighters, not for Perry and Gomert and Rove.

              •  Do you have any evidence that OSHA was staying (0+ / 0-)

                away because Texas does not like them?  Perhaps evidence that there are fewer OSHA inspections in Texas than in other states?

                Otherwise I think you're just farting flying monkeys out of your arse.

                What went wrong is the virulently anti-Federal-government attitude of our state "leaders". The last inspection was in 1985, I've read.
                You know..."OSHA interferes with your rights, costs jobs, and us macho Texans can take care of our own..."
                If OSHA is at fault for not inspecting they almost certainly are solely responsible.
                •  I'm not a detective... (0+ / 0-)

                  and like most media consumers don't have a bit of evidence about anything, just draw some conclusions from the mass of un-footnoted information that I find.
                  You are right, though, the state might hate OSHA but it is the fault of legislators in DC who have un-funded it to the point where "it is said", that it would take 137 years to inspect all facilities in Texas, at the current rate.
                  Wish I could footnote that...

                  I buy and sell well trained riding mules and American Mammoth Jack Stock.

                  by old mule on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 06:10:52 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Was the plant licensed to store Ammonium Nitrate? (9+ / 0-)

            I recall reading here and on Slate that the plant specifically mentioned in saftey documentation filed with the state that they had no fire/explosion risks, or so small a risk as to be negligible.  Perhaps if all they stored was anyhydrous ammonia that would be true, but certainly not ammonium nitrate.

            It could be the volunteer firemen who worked at the plant did not realize the dangers.  They might have thought it was an ordinary fire (although anhydrous ammonia is dangerous in a fire from what I gather).

            •  Yes, this is what I'm trying to understand (5+ / 0-)

              if that is the case, very little financial resources were required to prevent the catastrophe.

              And if the owners were so cheap as not to spend the 10s of dollars (quite literally, I'd think) to notify the proper authorities of the hazards involved, not only do they deserve to burn in hell for eternity but they also totally deserve to have the full force of civil and criminal prosecutions thrown their way . .. .

          •  I used to be in the munitions business (9+ / 0-)

            during Vietnam, in the military.

            We had a saying after the Bien Hoa disaster

            'when you see a fire start near bombs, there are two steps to take - "Long" and "Fast" '. It was my job to see that never happened at our base...

            Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

            by blindcynic on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:51:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dotdash2u, skohayes, marty marty

              I was a load toad (weapons loader) in the Air Force and even though every jet had a fire extinguisher next to it, in the event of a fire with live munitions present, the instructions were to evacuate practically to the front gate of the base, the fire department would also have to be informed of how many munitions and jets are present so they would know what distance, if any it was safe to approach the fire.  That said, I respect the men who gave their lives, but trying to fight that fire, under those circumstances, with the equipment that they had, was impossible.  And there should be he'll to pay for not informing the local Fire Department especially when they are your neighbors and friends.  

          •  Hey the firefighters were lied to (9+ / 0-)

            about the presence of the ammonium nitrate.  Fire departments have access to information on file about all risky stored chemicals at all places in their response area.  But in this case that information on file was incorrect because the plant had lied.  THAT is why they didn't realize it was an explosion risk.  They were thinking, "We know they don't have any of the chemicals on this list of explosion risk chemicals because they would have been required by law to tell us if they do and they didn't tell us."

            •  And used foam instead of water had they known of (4+ / 0-)

              the ammonium nitrate, from what I've read.

              Can I get a Grey Goose on the rocks over here?!

              by G Contractor on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:05:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Evidence of your assertion? Link? (0+ / 0-)

              Putting water on it doesn't make it explode. Pushing it into wood, or other organics, powdered metals, or Urea (another kind of fertilizer) with a strong jet of water will. The firefighters weren't lied to. They may have very well forgotten to have the MSDS with them though. It would be unusual for the Incident Commander at a fire though to forget.

              When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

              by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:48:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  UPDATE (0+ / 0-)

                another MSDS sheet for Ammonium Nitrate states:

                SECTION 5: FIRE FIGHTING MEASURES
                EXTINGUISHING MEDIA: Non-flammable liquid. Use media suitable to extinguish source of fire.
                SPECIAL FIRE FIGHTING PROCEDURES: None in liquid state.
                UNUSUAL FIRE AND EXPLOSION HAZARDS: None in liquid state. Organic and oxidizable materials can sensitize dry Ammonium Nitrate to a readily explodable state; can detonate if heated under confinement with high pressure.
                If this is the MSDS the firefighters were working from (last updated Jan 2013) that may have been a cause.

                When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

                by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:58:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Try reading what I wrote next time. (0+ / 0-)

                At no point did I make that claim that water caused the explosion.  That was other people who said that, not me.

                I was responding to the claim that the firefighters should have known not to approach a building on fire storing that much ammonium nitrate, and instead should have stayed back.  It had nothing to do with the decision about WHICH firefighting method to use once you decide to approach, foam or water.  It was about the decision to approach at all.

                The fact that they didn't know the building HAD the ammonium nitrate means it's not fair to blame the firefighters for deciding to approach.

                •  wasn't answering you ONLY, was to G Contractor (0+ / 0-)

                  as well insofar as foam v water. Do you really think the firefighters didn't know there was ammonium nitrate on the premises? I was showing you as aside, the sheet that says: UNUSUAL FIRE AND EXPLOSION HAZARDS: None in liquid state.

                  When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

                  by Havoth on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:44:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Don't blame me for your poor decision (0+ / 0-)

                    to apply a complaint to OTHER people's claims to my post and say where is my proof (of this thing you are NOW claiming you knew perfectly well I never claimed).

                    And yes, the firefighters didn't know because that quantity should be reported.  The lack of such reporting would make them not think it was there.

    •  80% volunteer? how many have health ins? nt (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yoshimi, Eyesbright, dotdash2u, 417els
  •  The price of freedomz! (4+ / 0-)

    After all if some kindly probably good Christian gentlemen/corporations want to maximize profit? - that's capitalism and the Amerkan way!
    And keeping our taxes low and gummint so small they can't keep a heavy hand on the entrepreneurial spirit of said corporation with some silly safety regulations? - more freedomz!
    And if dozens have to die? Collateral damage for freedomz!
     

    Blue is blue and must be that. But yellow is none the worse for it - Edith Sidebottom

    by kenwards on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:22:18 PM PDT

  •  Nothing penetrates. (19+ / 0-)

    In announcing a new lawsuit against the EPA Republican Atty General issues statement, (as usual decrying laws to protect people)

    “Since Day One of the Obama Administration, the EPA has issued a barrage of overreaching and illegal regulations,” Attorney General Abbott said. “In doing so, the EPA has not only ignored the devastating economic impacts of their regulations, but also ignored the laws of our land. The EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations were unlawfully created out of whole cloth and are a massive burden on states and businesses. As Texas has proven in other lawsuits against the EPA, this is a runaway federal agency that must be reined in.

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:28:20 PM PDT

    •  During the Bush II administration Bush used (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo

      administrative letters to delete as many regulations as possible at EPA.  Thus he bypassed Congress.  The secretary would get a list of new pages.  the pages would say delete page XX and insert new page XX which would make the old rule null and void.  I always hoped someone would save the old pages and a new Prez and EPA director would reinstate by new administrative letter.  But no luck.

  •  Perry: Come to Texas! (9+ / 0-)

    Where your kids can get Fukushima'd and the rich can profit from it!

    I wonder what the Texas economy would look like if Texan parents didn't vote to put their kids in so much danger so that rich industrialists could profit off their deaths.

    •  This is too harsh. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      suesue

      I don't believe any parent votes to endanger their children. It's just a by-product of misinformation and fear mongering.

      Let's remember too, all our progressive brothers and sisters in Texas working for red to blue change.

      •  No it's not (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timmethy, a2nite, dewtx, VTelder

        They're not misinformed. They're just OK taking risks that are totally irresponsible.

        That's as common as it can be in American society, from gang members and white racist gun nutters who get involved in a violent lifestyle to conservatives who vote to make their communities less safe, on any number of issues.

        If you don't call out the irresponsible people who make concerted decisions in specific ways to make sure our communities are unsafe, then our communities will always be unsafe, unnecessarily and irresponsibly unsafe at that.

        And in turn it's irresponsible for liberals and people who know better to remain silent.

        And all just because some folks are perfectly happy to create places that are by definition unsafe for people to live in because they want what they want even though it's totally irresponsible. And who gets hurt? More often than not, it's the most vulnerable, ie their own children. And that's been proven time and time again.

        But they never change, because nobody has the guts or the integrity to call them out on how irresponsible they're being with their own kids' safety.

  •  Those people vote for no regulations. nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, a2nite, Eyesbright, Supavash
    •  That's what happens in my area. Its black and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      white thinking to my mind.  No regulations or refusing to enforce regulations is bad but many would agree that over regulation can exist as well.  We need to have discernment about this not reactionary responses.

      •  Because (10+ / 0-)

        over-regulation of corporations is such a huge problem in this country.

        Screw that particular piece of false equivalence.

        •  This ^^^ x 1,000! n/t (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DRo, 417els, marty marty

          To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men. -Abraham Lincoln

          by Eyesbright on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:08:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The regulations thing.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jayden

          Is such bullshit.  Didn't OSHA say it costs like 100 dollars per year, per employee to conform to Federal Regulations.  Even assuming you have 100 employees, that's 10k a year.  If your margin is that slim that 10k a year endangers your business, I think you have bigger problems, mainly the fact you chose the wrong business or your not running it correctly.  

        •  No I was thinking of regulations that eliminate (0+ / 0-)

          the ability to sell at a farmer's market or for herbal supplements to be considered drugs rather than food so that people will not be able to access them the way that they do now.  I was thinking of the enforcement of seed patents that end up forcing small farmers to sell their land to pay for the legal fees when seeds drift on to their parcels.  I am sure there are many more like this.  How about the regulation of water collection that was tried in South America, where a water works came in and then people were prohibited from collecting their own rain water.

          Beware the black and white thinking.

  •  Government is by the People (10+ / 0-)

    What I see in Texas is clear indication that the People are not doing their job, and are not paying attention to the world around them.  If they don't act, no one is going to do their job for them.  The People get the government they demand.

    When people believe the lies about "job killing regulations", they need to understand this is the result, and that events like this will continue as long as they allow.

    •  Democracy: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      "the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

       - H. L. Mencken

      We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

      by RageKage on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:45:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is what happens when a government is... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, dotdash2u, 417els, Norm in Chicago

      controlled by money over people. At least this is the case in Texas. And even if the people speak, they're not heard by the Governments or Lege unless they're rich and are speaking with campaign contributions or other monetary favors. Governor Perry's been around long enough that he has appointed every member of the various state commissions on environmental quality or health and safety (such as they are). And if they don't toe the Governor's line, they won't make it up the Texas political ladder or receive the political contributions they so desperately crave. Someday this state WILL turn blue, but it can't come soon enough for me.

      Houston Chronicle editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson is starting a new hard-hitting series of political cartoons entitled "FOPs: Friends of Perry?". Last week's is here (regarding the "private" nuclear waste dump in western Texas); and here is this week's (about the corruption-plagued Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, CPRIT). I'm looking forward for next week's already. To see the latest of Nick Anderson's brilliant work look here.

      But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, ... there are few die well that die in a battle; ... Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; — Shakespeare, ‘Henry V’

      by dewtx on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:36:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  West (10+ / 0-)

    Thank you for posting this. The Adair family who owned the corporation that ran the plant is nowhere to be seen, of course, and they don't need to worry about being charged.
    "Depraved Indifference" is the felony charge appropriate here.

  •  I sure hope Texans (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, dotdash2u, marty marty, jayden

    hold their politicians to account for this and that they start questioning their assumptions about government and that Texas turns blue.

  •  A good overview of regulatory gaps and overlaps (14+ / 0-)
    The Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency charged with regulating the highly explosive substance ammonium nitrate, wasn't aware that West Fertilizer Co. stored 270 tons of ammonium nitrate - 1,300 times the threshold that triggers federal oversight.

    But the small company did submit the information to another government agency - the Department of State Health Services.

    For instance, when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a permit ...., the commission's only duty was to determine whether air quality at the site would negatively affect the students and other nearby residents.
    State Chemist Tim Herrman, whose office oversees the 592 Texas fertilizer facilities that have registered with the state, .... strictly to enforce laws pertaining to packaging, labeling and testing for contaminants.
    Also, volunteer fire departments aren't subject to the same oversight as their paid, professional counterparts. .... Had the plant been inspected by a fire safety expert enforcing NFPA standards, it would have had to comply with specific codes addressing safe storage of ammonium nitrate.
    http://www.chron.com/...

    And a commenter to that article finds another avenue of inquiry

    The article strictly wants to blame state government but that is shortsighted. All companies are subject to inspections by their insurance carrier as well as their workers compensation provider. Both insurance inspectors and loss control reps would be looking at the fire protection, what materials are being used in the manufacturing process and specifically related to workman's comp what protective measures are in place for the staff

    "No one life is more important than another. No one voice is more valid than another. Each life is a treasure. Each voice deserves to be heard." Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse & Onomastic

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:03:10 PM PDT

    •  EPA and OSHA do not regulate ammonium nitrate (12+ / 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 as only EPA and OSHA regulates site security.

      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 it was the Texas City Disaster.

      States generally rely on Federal rules to regulate hazardous chemicals.  So most states also do not regulate ammonium nitrate.

      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?

      I expect that EPA will now begin to regulate ammonium nitrate.  Believe it or not, I still have not found any evidence that the site was out of compliance with EPA or OSHA regulations, just DHS notification.

      •  That finding of yours is rather scarey (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, dewtx

        To think of all the times all of us get harassed when boarding airplanes, but owners of plants where there are explosive chemicals at hand don't have to do more than alert DHS as to the fact they have those chems lying around. (!!!!)

        Life in a nation of bureaucracies is certainly a grand experiment.

        Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

        by Truedelphi on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:56:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Insurance companies usually do the heavy lifting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      I'm afraid, and almost exclusively for economic reasons.

  •  boom! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G Contractor, voicemail, Eyesbright

    in texas we don't any of that EPA, OSHA, or other regulatory cra....................BOOM!  never mind.

  •  So if when at the memorial (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, dotdash2u, jayden

    in West on Thursday Obama promises that they will find he cause, he will be accused of politicizing the event?

    Count on it....

  •  Tipped & rec'ed Laura nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright
  •  Results of weak or non-existing regulation/zoning (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, Supavash, DRo, jayden

    When people vote in these "libertarians" (actually only for themselves of course- not for Gays, Women, Latinos, etc.), they get this mess.  And they never learn because they make us bail them out.  Then when a true natural disaster strikes, they don't want evul gobermint intervention.  Who in their right mind allows schools to be built next to what is essentially a bomb depot?  Let Gov. Perry figure out how to pay for this mess.  He bragged about the lack of inspections and "government" interference.  Well he bet wrong. Am I the only one tired of this?  They want it both ways especially when the rest of us have to pay.  

  •  Hard to Believe no (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, dotdash2u, a2nite, jayden

    sprinkler system, have been installing them for 25 years now, unreal with that type of hazard...which leads me to think he must have been self insured or insured by an extremely lax company, no decent insurance company would even consider a policy without a system. Then again I am in canada, and this is Texas we're talking about here, still...a lot of liability to spread around for this tragedy.

  •  Latest SIM City commercial (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    "…and the zoning laws that let a school and homes be right across the street from a fertilizer plant should be a scandal."

    Just like in the commercial.

    http://www.youtube.com/...

  •  The Local FD had the chance to know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, dotdash2u, Havoth

    if they had a working regulatory system.

    In a well managed setup, the Fire Marshal would stop by once a year, make sure that they have a plant layout map on the County Geographic Information System(GIS) and they would have an emergency response plan.  

    Now something like  a small office building you don't need much but a dry cleaning plant, or film processor or
    fertilizer plant you want a decent plan.

    Here what they had was a small town VFD, no full time marshal, no authority to demand a Sprinkler system or blast protection, no planning, no thinking.

    •  which is why I fear the firefighters themselves (0+ / 0-)

      may share some blame for the explosion in the end. A terrible price to pay...

      When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.-Mark Twain

      by Havoth on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:53:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's why the city building dept needs (0+ / 0-)

        an inspector and they need a fire marshal.

        A good fire marshal stops by the school before the year starts and checks all the extinguishers, and the sprinkler tags, and supervises an alarm test, and leads a fire drill with the staff.

        A good fire marshal stops by the big public buildings and does that.  Also checks the restaurants grease hoods  and
        visits the big apartment buildings and any businesses that may handle chemicals.

        Volunteer fire fighters can't do that job.

  •  Knowing how Texas regulates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, 417els

    should scare the heck out of people.  And we have

    WCS has emerged as the national leader in treatment, storage and disposal of radioactive, hazardous and mixed waste at its 1338-acre, west Texas facility near Andrews.

    With the opening of the Texas Compact Disposal Facility, WCS is now the only facility in the United States licensed in the last 30 years to dispose of Class A, B and C low-level radioactive waste.

    It can't be comforting to know that this is owned by one of the largest supporters of Perry.  Do you think it will be over-regulated?

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:23:13 PM PDT

  •  how long before some TX (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    congressman apologizes to the plant owners for others holding them accountable?

    Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear... Aesop

    by mr crabby on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:09:10 PM PDT

  •  Which one was the WMD? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brian1066, marty marty

    So the kid who helped his brother drop two homemade IEDs at the Boston Marathon is being charged with using a Weapon of Mass Destruction, even though a pressure cooker full of shrapnel and gunpowder is not a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon.  (It is probably what the law calls an "infernal machine", but that doesn't have its own federal death penalty associated with it.)  These two bombs killed three people who had the immense misfortune to be standing next to them.  But it was where they were deployed that made them so dangerous.

    But the lunatic who stored hundreds of McVeigh-units worth of nitrate, along with a vast amount of anhydrous, and who killed 14 people plus perhaps many more who haven't been identified yet, is looking at a slap on the wrist.  Ooh, sorry, Mr. Adair, that your business went boom!  No, I think that type of explosion deserves being treated as a WMD, not the IEDs that put my neighborhood under panicked lockdown last week.

  •  We'll learn our lesson from this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, jayden

    just like we learned our lesson from the BP Horizon Gulf of Mexico tragedy.

    ::crickets::

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:33:19 PM PDT

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