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The remains of a fertilizer plant burn 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 more than 100 people, leveling dozens of homes and damaging other buildings including a school and nursing home, authorities said.  REUTERS/Mike Stone   (UNITED STATES - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT AGRICULTURE) - RTXYQA4
At least 12 people are dead and more than 200 injured in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, Wednesday night. The town's mayor has said that 15 were killed, including five workers at the plant, five fire fighters, and four EMTs, but that number has not been confirmed.

While the Texas explosion has been overshadowed by the Boston Marathon bombing and Friday's manhunt for Dzhokhan Tsarnaev, this explosion also raises major questions about public safety and the function of government. In 2010, 4,690 workers were killed on the job, an average of 13 every day. The government agencies tasking with inspecting worksites and ensuring safety are terribly understaffed, business owners and managers are rarely charged with crimes even for willful violations leading to worker deaths, and even fines for worker deaths are routinely negotiated down to shockingly low numbers. We don't yet know what kind of justice the owners of the West Fertilizer Co. will face. But we do know that the plant fit into America's patterns of weak oversight.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had not inspected the plant since 1985, when it was cited for five serious violations and fined $30. Yes, 30 whole dollars. The company has also been fined in recent years, including by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for not having filed a risk-management plan and for safety violations, respectively. Friday, reports emerged that the anhydrous ammonia that was widely known to be at the plant and which had featured in the 2011 risk-management plan in which the company said the plant posed no risks was not the only product being stored there. The plant:

[...] had informed a state agency in February that it was storing up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate—the highly explosive chemical compound used in the domestic terror attack on the Oklahoma City federal building. [...]

It's not clear whether the ammonium nitrate, which was not initially reported as being present at the site in the wake of Wednesday's massive blast, was responsible for the explosion, or whether volunteer firefighters battling a fire at the facility knew of its presence. Under state law, hazardous chemicals must be disclosed to the community fire department and to the county emergency planning agency, in addition to the state.

So there's still a lot to be learned about how this happened, but whatever the answers, it's a virtual certainty that no one will go to jail for this deadly explosion. It's important to remember, though, that while most deaths on the job don't make the news outside their immediate areas, death on the job is a daily occurrence, and justice is rare.

2:08 PM PT: Reports are now 13 dead and 60 missing.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When water hits ammonium nitrate... (20+ / 0-)

    ...I'm told--I'm NOT a chemist--it makes it very unstable (and, apparently, heat exacerbates this). This WAS reported early on, when the story was breaking. But, it wasn't mentioned much after that. Glad to see it's resurfaced.

    As I noted in a comment in another post...

    The Fertilizer Industry IS a DHS Matter...bigtime!

    We protect our airplanes and our nuclear plants from terrorists. And, to a MUCH lesser extent, we also do that with dynamite, as far as the construction industry's concerned. (We still have a lot of work to do in that area, as well.) But, when it comes to access to fertilizer, one of the most common ingredients in civilian BOMB-MAKING and chemical weaponry, we don't do that. Apparently, we don't even regulate it well enough to prevent incidents such as the one that's now occurring in West, Texas, from happening, either! And, our government has widely-publicized the connection between fertilizer (and chemicals, in general) and terrorism, too. So, it IS on their radar. But, it's widely (and, realistically, deliberately) "overlooked." (Grossly under-enforced./under-regulated.) Perhaps we should take a FEW BILLION dollars from our DOMESTIC DRONE PROGRAMS and apply that money to the retail fertilizer/chemical industry?!?!? What a concept, huh!?! Then again, like the GUN industry (a legitimate comparison needs to be made here, too), there will be plenty of blowback from the powers that be, so it won't be an easy slog. For sure. This is a BIG problem, even though it certainly looks as if it was bad training by a local fire department that exacerbated what we're dealing with in Texas, right now, too. (How about training first-responders better to handle this stuff? Homeland Security, are you listening?!?!? Of course you are...heh...heh. I documented that inconvenient truth in another post, recently, as well!)

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

    by bobswern on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:38:38 AM PDT

    •  ammonium nitrate + water = cold (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, bobswern, NYFM, radmul, alain2112, Ender, PeterHug

      classic science demonstration of an endothermic reaction

      http://www.ammoniumnitrate.org/...

      PLEASE donate to a global children's PEACE project: Chalk 4 Peace

      by RumsfeldResign on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:49:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Okay...just looked it up... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy

      ...and, again, I'm NOT a chemist (ironic...because the profession does run in the family, to some extent, but I'm pretty ignorant about the subject)...

      LINK...

      When ammonium nitrate is dissolved in water, it breaks down into its ions: ammonium and nitrate. The reaction of ammonium nitrate dissolving is unusual in that it is endothermic and dissolved ammonium nitrate will feel cool for some time. Neither the water nor ammonium nitrate are changed in any other way other than the ammonium nitrate is dissolved. However, when aqueous or dissolved ammonium nitrate is heated, the solution breaks down to release nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.

      Read more: What Happens When You Add Ammonium Nitrate to Water? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/...

      So, this week in West, TX there was (almost certainly) this huge explosion of nitrous oxide...then again, with all of the other chemicals there, who knows?

       

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

      by bobswern on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:55:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Soil has a lot of water in it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy

      Do gardens and crop fields blow up every time someone uses fertilizer on them?

      Repeal the 2nd amendment.

      by Calouste on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:22:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        p gorden lippy, 4CasandChlo

        That is not what it is saying.  It is saying that when water is added to the mix, the ions break apart.  Which means that the nitrates will affix themselves to the soil and the roots.

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

        by RichM on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:33:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't think we disagree. (0+ / 0-)

          bobstern above seems to suggest that adding water to fertilizer makes it explosive. My comment is that, if that were the case, gardening would be a rather interesting experience.

          Repeal the 2nd amendment.

          by Calouste on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:41:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, that's bogus...because it's taken... (0+ / 0-)

            ...out of context as far as the ENTIRE thread is concerned, i.e. (among other statements):

            Nitrous oxide, by itself, isn't flammable...however...
               ...During the combustion process in an engine, at about 572 degrees F., nitrous breaks down and releases oxygen. This extra oxygen creates additional power by allowing more fuel to be burned...

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

            by bobswern on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:47:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's pretty absurd, but, when you cherry-pick... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            4CasandChlo

            ...my comments to make me look dumber than I am about the subject (and you really have to make an effort to do that...LOL!...as I note in my own words, above), then if you're making a point to contort the comment out-of-context with the rest of my comments in the thread, it's understandable.

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

            by bobswern on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:53:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Ammonium Nitrate is a well known explosive (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobswern

      It produces more gas per weight than any other explosive.

      It will explode if you hit it hard enough with a hammer.

      It is difficult to get it to explode on a small scale because it will just scatter, but when you have tons of it in a silo, that much mass just isn't going to move, so an explosion can be very destructive.

      •  Chemisty (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ender
        " according to chemist Jimmie Oxley, ammonium nitrate is a lot less dangerous than you might guess. Despite a history of high-profile explosions, like the one that happened last night, ammonium nitrate isn't considered to be that big of a danger. In fact, Oxley called it a "marginal explosive" — a chemical that is mostly safe, but can become dangerous when the conditions are just right.
        ...According to news reports, ammonium nitrate might not have been only chemical culprit at work in West, Texas. The factory had large stores of both ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia — a flammable gas — according to the LA Times. The ammonium nitrate storage building was at the center of the blast, according to local Dallas/Ft. Worth news. It's not clear which of these chemicals was the source of the explosion. But if it had more to do with the anhydrous ammonia then the chemistry explanation for all of this would be different...
        http://boingboing.net/...
      •  Err... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, happymisanthropy

        "It will explode if you hit it hard enough with a hammer."

        ...No, it won't.  AN's essentially shock and friction insensitive on that scale, unless it's been contaminated with certain metal salts or organic compounds.  

        It's difficult to get pure AN to explode, period, unless you heat large amounts of it up to melting and then shock it, and even then, only the melted part tends to detonate unless the stockpile's extremely large.  (One government website I saw said that at least 300T would be needed, or it would just deflagrate instead of detonate.)  That's why, whether it's being used by guys in a quarry or mad bombers, it's -always- mixed with a sensitizer beforehand.

        •  It will explode if you shock it hard enough (0+ / 0-)

          I saw a table where they were letting a weight free fall onto samples of different explosives. They recorded the minimum height required to create an explosion. Nitroglycerine was something ridiculous like one inch. Ammonium Nitrate was something equally as ridiculous like 100 inches.

          This was in a book that I had decades ago. I can't find a similar table online. All I could find was a government document where they were exploding it by shooting bullets at it.

          No explosive is immune to shock.

        •  I wasn't suggesting to use claw hammer and a brick (0+ / 0-)

          in your backyard. You will never get it to explode that way.

          I was just making the point that AN is an explosive on its own.

          If you smash it hard enough between two pieces of metal, it is going to explode. Maybe you need a big machine to swing the hammer, but it can be done.

  •  sounds like the place (15+ / 0-)

    was a bomb waiting to go off.  Terrible loss of life and injuries, but no manhunt for the people responsible, no talk of enhanced interrogation.  White collar criminals just aren't seen as the criminals they are.

  •  how will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    janmtairy

    noone go to jail if all these omissions happened? That is precisely what needs to happen to plant managers to have an effect. This can have been negligent manslaughter and for such people should absolutely go to jail. What else should be asked from those who are ultimately responsible?

  •  Would also be nice to find the public officials (8+ / 0-)

    who allowed three schools to be sited near a fertilizer dump.

  •  Haven't seen any previous references, but (12+ / 0-)

    this also brought to mind the Texas City, TX ammonium nitrate explosion in 1947.

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:04:32 AM PDT

  •  Blaming the explosion on the anhydrous ammonia (8+ / 0-)

    Never made much sense. The presence of so much ammonium nitrate clarifies what likely happened. I doubt the plant was in proper compliance with even the lax regulations you'd expect in Texas.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:05:05 AM PDT

    •  No, it really doesn't. (11+ / 0-)

      The anhydrous ammonia BLEV explains the blast very well.  If the place was actually storing 275T of Ammonium Nitrate, then the AN didn't detonate.  If it had, there would be nothing left but a smoking crater and a much larger radius of devastation.  

      Pure AN is exceedingly stable.  You can hit it with hammers, set it on fire (so long as the fire isn't contained,) and in general handle it like a bag of sand or salt.  Just don't set off any high explosives on it -- and even that won't always set off AN, because the pure stuff needs a very high-energy (read high-speed) shockwave to set it off.  The BLEV explosion wasn't a proper detonation, and should be too slow to set off the AN.

      AN is always mixed with a sensitizer when being used as an explosive, either industrially or in bombings, because it's so insensitive that most primers aren't sufficiently high-energy to set it off reliably.  But when it goes, boy, does it ever go.

      •  Yup (9+ / 0-)
        But when it goes, boy, does it ever go.
        Texas City,  April 16, 1947.

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:22:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah. That was famous. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert, Fishgrease, myboo, basket, DSPS owl

          What happened to the ship is probably what happened to the plant. This is from the Wikipedia article:

          The 38% ammonium nitrate, used as fertilizer and in blasting agents, was manufactured in Nebraska and Iowa and shipped to Texas City by rail before being loaded on the Grandcamp.
          It was manufactured in a patented process, mixed with clay, petrolatum, rosin and paraffin wax to avoid moisture caking. It was also packaged in paper sacks, then transported and stored at temperatures that increased its chemical activity. Longshoremen reported the bags were warm to the touch prior to loading.
          Around 8:00 a.m., smoke was spotted in the cargo hold of the Grandcamp while it was still moored at its dock. Over the next hour, attempts to put out the fire or put it under control failed as a red glow returned after each effort to douse the fire.
          Shortly before 9:00 a.m., the captain ordered his men to steam the hold, a firefighting method where steam is piped in to put out fires in the hope of preserving the cargo. Meanwhile, the fire had attracted a crowd of spectators along the shoreline, who believed they were a safe distance away.[3] Spectators noted that the water around the docked ship was already boiling from the heat, and the splashing water touching the hull of the ship was vaporized into steam. The cargo hold and deck began to bulge as the pressure of the steam increased inside.
          At 9:12 a.m., the ammonium nitrate reached an explosive threshold and the vessel then detonated, causing great destruction and damage throughout the port. The tremendous blast (29.3756°N 94.8916°W) sent a 15-foot (4.5 m) wave that was detectable nearly 100 miles (160 km) off the Texas shoreline. The blast leveled nearly 1,000 buildings on land. The Grandcamp explosion destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant and resulted in ignition of refineries and chemical tanks on the waterfront. Falling bales of burning twine added to the damage while the Grandcamp's anchor was hurled across the city. Sightseeing airplanes flying nearby had their wings shorn off,[4] forcing them out of the sky. Ten miles away, people in Galveston were forced to their knees; windows were shattered in Houston, Texas, 40 miles (60 km) away. People felt the shock 100 miles away in Louisiana. The explosion blew almost 6,350 tons of the ship's steel into the air, some at supersonic speed. Official casualty estimates came to a total of 567, including all the crewmen who remained onboard the Grandcamp, but many victims were burned to ashes or blown to bits, and the official total is believed to be an undercount. All but one member of the Texas City volunteer fire department were killed in the initial explosion on the docks while fighting the shipboard fire, and with the fires raging, first responders from other areas were initially unable to reach the site of the disaster.

          For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

          by Anne Elk on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:38:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  What exploded then? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:33:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The anhydrous ammonia storage tanks. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lorell, PeterHug, DSPS owl

          There's a big difference between an explosion and a detonation, when you're talking explosives -- a detonation has a supersonic shock front, and an explosion has a subsonic one.  As far as I'm aware, BLEVs are almost always subsonic, while detonations of high explosives are always supersonic.  

          Both have shit blowing up, both can do extensive damage, but the detonation of a quarter-kiloton of AN would have a much larger blast.

          ... Actually, I did some research on just now and the ammonium nitrate may have spontaneously deflagrated, which adds to the blast but not to the extent that it would had it detonated.  See http://www.hse.gov.uk/... for more info.

      •  Thanks for information. Still not reassuring. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert, DSPS owl

        Next to schools and a nursing home, 270 tons of something of which the best that can be said is that it's really difficult to make it explode?

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:34:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, DSPS owl

        AN isn't even classified as an explosive, le alone a high explosive. It's a blasting agent. As you say, it will do f' all without proper detonation. It has a high energy density, but it is not explosive.

        I just read a bit on the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 2-3 tons of Ammonium Nitrate used there measured as a 3.0 earthquake. The West explosion "only" measured as a 2.1.

        Repeal the 2nd amendment.

        by Calouste on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:38:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  AN plus fire (0+ / 0-)

        has caused more than one big accident. We don't know the purity here.

        There was a small but classic mushroom cloud and buildings down for blocks around.

        That's a detonation, almost certainly. A true one.

        •  Nope. (4+ / 0-)

          "Mushroom clouds" have nothing to do with the size of velocity of the explosion, but the geometry of it.  

          You can easily get a mini mushroom cloud by tossing a match into a can with a thin layer of fine-grained black powder or lower-energy flash powder at the bottom.  No explosion.

          Just because there were buildings knock down for blocks around doesn't mean that there was a detonation.  The BLEV explosion would do that handily, too.  So would a MOAB fuel-air explosion.  Neither of which are considered detonations.  

          The main point, however, is that if this was a detonation of 275 tons of AN, it would have been much, much larger.  There wouldn't have been a fiery ruin left of the storage facility; there would have been a smoking crater, and the "houses knocked down" radius would have been larger than four or so blocks.

      •  Here is a link to a video of a BLEV on a (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PeterHug, dsteffen, BlackSheep1

        train derailment with some propane cars and other assorted tankers.  It is significant because this is when Illinois set the Tank Car distance record of close to 3/4 of a mile.

  •  They want less regulation, (8+ / 0-)

    Texas Republicans continue to spew their anti-regulatory nonsense and push for less regulation.

    In Austin, Thursday, a Senate committee (Republican stacked) voted  6-3  for legislation “streamlining” (read: weakening) the process that communities and environmental groups can use to challenge permits to pollute.

    While the facts of the plant explosion and the death and injuries are being counted, they double down.

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

    by DRo on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:33:25 AM PDT

    •  it's hard to have less than zero regulation (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, Ender, clecinosu, sethtriggs

      but by God, if anyone can do it, Texas Republicans will.

      "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Goethe

      by jlynne on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:34:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I second this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, judyms9, clecinosu, DSPS owl

      There are two groups in texas.  One that lives in urban areas that see everyday what the government does.  The other see their tax dollars benefiting people who do not look like them, do not see how taxes help them do anything, and pretty much want to do as they please, just good old boys trying to make a living.

      I do not see anything wrong with this later group, except that they whine when something goes wrong.  And what do they have to complain about?  That the plant was too regulation.  The EPA was not able do anything to make the plant safer.  OSHA has not been there since the 80s', when they "fined $30 for a serious violation for storage of anhydrous ammonia."

      These are the people who voted for Perry who wants to get rid of EPA.  Yes they are hurting, need disaster relief, and ned disaster relief funds.  I would rather see those come from Texas than the Feds, as texas has a huge surplus.  We in texas need to bear the brunt of this to determine if this zero regulation thing is really worth the price.  Externalizing the cost to the feds is just to make the wing nuts more determined to trade profit for human life.

    •  Big Oil owns Rick Perry and the Texas GOP (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo

      "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:42:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No, Ian S, blaming an anhydrous BLEVE (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, FishOutofWater, cocinero

    (boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion) makes perfect sense. Also, from NBC coverage:

    The Wednesday night blast was apparently touched off by a fire, but it remained unclear what sparked the blaze. A team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives still had not been able to begin investigating the scene because it remained unsafe, agency spokeswoman Franceska Perot said.

    The West Fertilizer Co. facility stores and distributes anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer that can be directly injected into soil, and a blender and mixer of other fertilizers.

    Records reviewed by The Associated Press show the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined West Fertilizer $10,000 last summer for safety violations that included planning to transport anhydrous ammonia without a security plan. An inspector also found the plant's ammonia tanks weren't properly labeled.

    The government accepted $5,250 after the company took what it described as corrective actions, the records show. It is not unusual for companies to negotiate lower fines with regulators.

    In a risk-management plan filed with the Environmental Protection Agency about a year earlier, the company said it was not handling flammable materials and did not have sprinklers, water-deluge systems, blast walls, fire walls or other safety mechanisms in place at the plant.

    State officials require all facilities that handle anhydrous ammonia to have sprinklers and other safety measures because it is a flammable substance, according to Mike Wilson, head of air permitting for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. But inspectors would not necessarily check for such mechanisms, and it's not known whether they did when the West plant was last inspected in 2006, said Ramiro Garcia, head of enforcement and compliance.

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

    by BlackSheep1 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 11:34:16 AM PDT

    •  Plz read that last ^ sentence .... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, cocinero, DSPS owl

      To me this translates to mean that there is never any form of state follow-up on problem correction and once you get a permit you are never checked again.

      I have to get my car inspected annually or I can't get a license.  Have we evolved to the point that corporations are treated as 'better' than ordinary people?

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

      by DRo on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:24:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, budget-starved regulatory agencies aren't (5+ / 0-)

        exactly unique to Texas either, are they? Yes. The FEDS cut the fines by half and said, OK, go about your business. In 2012.

        Now, extrapolate. If DHS were doing its job, would it be inspecting fertilizer distributors and LPG tank farms coast to coast, instead of making you take off your shoes and measuring your shampoo and stealing your Leatherman at airports???????

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

        by BlackSheep1 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 12:43:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Actual chemists disagree with you... (9+ / 0-)

      from this article:

      Guido Verbeck, a University of North Texas chemist who studies explosions, said he would have a hard time believing that anhydrous ammonia was the primary cause of the blast.

      “It shocks me to think this would be ammonia by itself,” he said, speaking before the presence of the ammonium nitrate was confirmed by the documents and investigators. “Something’s missing here. Even if the tank had ruptured, it wouldn’t have been much of a newsworthy event.”
      ...
      Verbeck said if the stored anhydrous ammonia had caused such a huge blast, it would be unprecedented, as far as he knows, and he speculated that ammonium nitrate on the site might have exploded, then ruptured the tanks of 
anhydrous ammonia.

      Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

      by Ian S on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 01:59:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So is Govenor Perry going to postpone (5+ / 0-)

    his trip to chicago IL to promote the less regulatory business environment of Texas to Illinois Businesses to deal with the aftermath of the less regulatory business environment of texas?  he was supposed to go next week.

  •  And yet, they were able to tell the EPA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, Mr Robert, happymisanthropy

    that there was no risk of fire or explosion at the plant.

    Unbelievable.  At the very least, the owner needs to be sued into poverty--though of course, I want him to go to jail.

    The NRA's response to calls for responsible gun law reform: noun, verb, Second Amendment

    by Christian Dem in NC on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:28:55 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this post Laura.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    all along, I have been wondering why we haven't heard a statement from the owners of the plant.  Actually, I feel that a lot of pieces of the puzzle are missing, like who is responsible for this criminal negligence and why aren't we hounding them with pitchforks?

    "A weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered." Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Yo Bubba on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:28:56 PM PDT

    •  TCEQ is responsible for pollutant releases (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Yo Bubba, hmi

      Texas State Chemist for fertilizer. Plant had received several State Chemist inspections, but because terra and security, the nature of any violations found wouldn't be publicized.  In 2012 a Fed inspection (probably DoT /NTSB) resulted in a $10 K fine for the plant for labeling violations and lack of a safe-transport permit for anhydrous ammonia.
      But the owners took steps and the feds halved the fines.

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

      by BlackSheep1 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:37:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is one of those easy twofers. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, cocinero, David54, DSPS owl

    It's similar to the enormous backlog of Veterans' claims.

    First, we have a terrible problem in immediate need of fixing. Second, we have a major unemployment crisis, still.

    Hire more workers to fix this problem, you fucking morons!!!

    Hire workers to get rid of the Veterans' claims backlogs. Hire more workers to get rid of the OSHA backlog. Hire more workers to staff the ATF, the EPA, the CDC, the SEC, etc. etc.

    The Federal workforce today, in 2013, has two million fewer workers than it had in 1962!!

    Since then, we've added some 130 million new citizens. But the actual government has shrunk, in real numbers, and radically shrunk as a percentage of the population.

    The odious shadow of Reagan and Thatcher cripple us still.

  •  What's goofy about this, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10

    as others have observed, is that we vastly over-regulate many things that aren't a great source of danger, but then ignore things like this. You would think that oversight of such plants would have been massively expanded after Oklahoma City and even more so after 9/11. Our government seems to be a lot smarter tactically than it is strategically.

    For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

    by Anne Elk on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:32:51 PM PDT

  •  It need not be stated enough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SouthernLiberalinMD

    This plant not only lied to the EPA about fire risk, but also didn't have basic fire safety equipment.

    The NRA's response to calls for responsible gun law reform: noun, verb, Second Amendment

    by Christian Dem in NC on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:37:17 PM PDT

  •  Texas City 1947 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, Hohenzollern, BlackSheep1

    That explosion was ammonium nitrate.
    I had neighbors in Houston who worked for oil companies and I soon learned that  ammonium nitrate was often used as a substitute for dynamite in seismic oil exploration.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:38:06 PM PDT

  •  Only thing you need in Texas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, eldorado8155

    To  run a  dangerous plant in Texas ,is a  fiddle and a band, Gov Perry brag about Texas business friendly atmosphere ,that endanger the lives of Texas workers

  •  and then there is the community. . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bryce in Seattle, lorell

    that either trusted this outfit, ignored the danger, or simply did what so many people do given the almighty name and sake of so-called "job security" . . . say nothing to anyone outside the community; no whistle blowers in this tight community; and apparently oblivious to the threat of instant death and danger when such chemical compounds simply blow up. Of course, this isn't so much pointed fingers at these people, but you have to wonder if the owners and managers of this outfit had a conscience and gave a good goddamn about the potential lethal results should the proverbial shit happen. I know others have already commented about the government's duplicity in this horrendous tragedy, and regardless how short the list is for qualified inspectors, with fertilizer plants it should be a priority to focus on what's being stored and how it's stored. The government is therefore culpable and needs to have a good heart-to-heart confession with a higher authority.

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:42:31 PM PDT

    •  This is a black land farming area . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlackSheep1

          I understand this was a small fertilizer plant most of the product of which is used locally. It's a situation where people need to be protected from themselves, but with the crass politicians in DC eating out of the hands of the plutocrats these folks are on their own. And of course attention is deflected from what's probably going to be around seventy five dead in this situation by 24-7 coverage of these two wannabe jihadist jokers in Boston.

  •  The insurance trade press (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bryce in Seattle

    is trying to find out who provided the insurance coverage for West Fertilizer.  It is pretty common after a major disaster for each insurer's share of the risk to be announced.  So far, nothing on who had the coverage for the property, liability, and workers comp.  It may very well be they are uninsured.  And, Hooray for Texas!  It somehow looks like a firm can opt out of providing workers compensation--something that is mandatory most everywhere else.

    Who the heck insured this place

  •  although the corp (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    richholtzin, Mr Robert, DSPS owl

    obviously didn't play by the rules this is america and texas so the business will be slapped on the hands and the tax payers will foot the bill for the cleanup of the explosion, doing business in america and especially texas is a win win for corps and a lose lose for the 99%.

  •  That picture is straight out of hell. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    Thoughts and prayers to the dead and injured, and their families.

    God be with you, Occupiers. God IS with you.

    by Hohenzollern on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 02:51:59 PM PDT

  •  Hey this is Texas... (0+ / 0-)

    and to heck with those darn EPA standards,huh?

  •  I have relatives that are "fiscal conservatives" (0+ / 0-)

    and are very wealthy and think keeping the investor happy is the primary goal of business. They're basically stereotypical greed is good boomers.

    While visiting them I went for drinks and dinner at their country club to meet their friends. I sat by this woman who is an expert in industry safety standards and she was writing a book/manual on how to deal with work safety issues. She had some publishing questions for me and so we talked about this for a while.

    I was pretty amazed when she told me that there was really no need for OSHA regulations and unions any more because work safety had been taken care of.

  •  Tracking the dead and missing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1

    14 confirmed dead, the lists of missing still being reconciled with the lists of those hospitalized.

    I have a diary up with the names of the confirmed or presumed dead as they are released.
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    In the comments I have also included the recently released statement from the company owner.

    "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 Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 03:16:35 PM PDT

  •  Gov. Agroid (0+ / 0-)

    I wonder if that moron is still running around the country at Texas taxpayers' expense bragging about how unregulated business is in his state.

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 03:27:16 PM PDT

  •  First question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, judyms9, nextstep

    is, what caused the fire? And whose fault might it have been?

    It would be nice to have answers to those questions before we start stringing up the plant's owners and/or managers (and this was a pretty tiny operation).

    It's also worth recalling that there are also disasters caused by dumb workers—like the idiot who triggered the Horween Leather disaster in Chicago in '78 (8 dead) by forcing the wrong hose into the wrong intake valve. All the smart engineering and strict regulating in the world is unlikely to withstand the dynamic duo of bad luck and human stupidity.

  •  We all need to have enough humility to realize (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, TrueBlueMajority

    that each one of us is vulnerable to that "twinkling of an eye" thing.  No one is secure.  Security and privacy are illusions.

    Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

    by judyms9 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 04:18:46 PM PDT

  •  Greedy corporations kill more than terrorists (0+ / 0-)

    That should get the attention of the 'small government' brain-washed crowd.

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