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Subject: West, Texas explosion rss

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MGK
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A fertilizer plant in West, Texas has exploded. The explosion was felt at a "buildings shaking" level more than fifty miles away. Apparently as many as seventy people are dead already. Video of the explosion here.

This is a pretty shitty week, isn't it?
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mightygodking wrote:
A fertilizer plant in West, Texas has exploded. The explosion was felt at a "buildings shaking" level more than fifty miles away. Apparently as many as seventy people are dead already. Video of the explosion here.

This is a pretty shitty week, isn't it?


Are they saying accident or on purpose?
 
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Wow, that looks pretty bad. I wonder if the folks taking the film in the first part died in the explosion or no. It seems like they were *very* close.
 
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Dispaminite wrote:
Are they saying accident or on purpose?


It looks like an industrial accident. Apparently there was a railroad tank car of anhydrous ammonia at the plant (which is used to make fertilizer) and what most likely happened is that something caught on fire, the fire boiled the ammonia in the tank car, the tank burst and the ammonia vapor then went FOOM.
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mightygodking wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:
Are they saying accident or on purpose?


It looks like an industrial accident. Apparently there was a railroad tank car of anhydrous ammonia at the plant (which is used to make fertilizer) and what most likely happened is that something caught on fire, the fire boiled the ammonia in the tank car, the tank burst and the ammonia vapor then went FOOM.
That's what I'm interpreting from what I've read, also. Although I didn't pick on up it being a truck, I assumed the tanks were storage tanks at the plant. Ammonia is a common ingredient in fertilisers (and explosives, but usually as ammonium nitrate, apparently not the case here). It's usually stored under pressure to force the gas into liquid state, and a temperature increase means more pressure is needed to keep it confined. The tanks weren't up to it. You also have to be careful about how you mix anhydrous (dry) ammonia with water, so water from the firefighting may not have helped matters.
 
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Shadrach wrote:
Wow, that looks pretty bad. I wonder if the folks taking the film in the first part died in the explosion or no. It seems like they were *very* close.

Amazingly - from the full clip, I think the guy filming and his kid were relatively unharmed. I thought they were incinerated. What a horrible accident.

http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/feature?section=news/national_wo...
 
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I will take the "angry Indians from Bhopal" square if this turns out to be terrorism. I know it's a long shot.
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West is traditionally a Czech community, and is known for their kolaches. The quality's really declined because there are now a bunch of touristy places along the interstate.

West was the first place I ever saw Space Invaders, in my aunt's sister's dive bar.
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JoshBot wrote:
West is traditionally a Czech community, and is known for their kolaches. The quality's really declined because there are now a bunch of touristy places along the interstate.


I still like their kolaches and I stop by on the way home from BGG.con. A crazy, shitty week indeed.
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Ammonium nitrate is some pretty scary stuff; unfortunately, there have been many such horrible explosions during fires.
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What gets me was how many houses were in the vicinity of the blast radius.

Note to self: Don't live within 3 miles of a fertilizer plant. Noted.
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The Dallas Morning News: "The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show."
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robigo wrote:
Ammonium nitrate is some pretty scary stuff; unfortunately, there have been many such horrible explosions during fires.
Including the Texas City disaster, the largest industrial disaster in US history.
 
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Wow.

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Why has Obama not used the terrorism word yet?
 
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slatersteven wrote:
Why has Obama not used the terrorism word yet?


I figure because it's hard to whine, pout and cry like a little baby and at the same time be one of the serious people who are handling tragedy and misfortune and helping others in need.

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I, too, enjoy stopping for kolaches in West. Such a tragedy for that community. It'll be quite some time before they recover from this. What a tremendous explosion!
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Looking at aerial photos of the plant, it appears their storage system for chemicals was haphazard at best. I wonder if their facility met the local building code.

Oh wait, Texas.
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49xjohn wrote:

Looking at aerial photos of the plant, it appears their storage system for chemicals was haphazard at best. I wonder if their facility met the local building code.

Oh wait, Texas.
Another triumph for freedom.
 
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This is what deregulation and smaller government looks like.

This tragic although normal accident is no surprise when OSHA is under funded and understaffed. The Dallas Morning News reported that the plant said that there was no risk of explosion. In other words they did not properly identify the hazard that led to the explosion. OSHA has not inspected this plant in at least five years. Another possible factor is that this is a non-union facility. The way OSHA and EPA usually do inspections is to follow up on complaints from workers. Non-union workforces, as potentially more vulnerable to firing for "outing" their bosses, are less likely to make such reports.

Democracy Now! has an interesting interview/report on this: No OSHA Inspections at Texas Plant in 5 Years: Are We Doing Enough to Protect Workplace Safety?
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Where is Pat Robertson to tell us what sin is being punished this time?
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The future consequences for the city may also lead to problems -

If the risk assessment (as quoted) considered such an event as "can't happen" then it is quite likely that the plant's public liability insurance** will be inadequate (and the insurance company may well try and wriggle out of liability anyhow). This means two things: those who have losses or injuries are unlikely to get anything like adequate compensation; and the only option for the company will be insolvancy.

OK, they do not appear to be a big employer (there seem to be less than 2 dozen private vehicles parked on the site on the google satelite image) and probably only moderately contribute to the city's tax revenue but, given that the city has a population less than a quarter that of a smallish village near me, they are in for a lot more hurt yet.

** I assume that there is some legal requirement for such even in such a freedom-oriented state as Texas
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Elfbane wrote:
This is what deregulation and smaller government looks like.

This tragic although normal accident is no surprise when OSHA is under funded and understaffed. The Dallas Morning News reported that the plant said that there was no risk of explosion. In other words they did not properly identify the hazard that led to the explosion. OSHA has not inspected this plant in at least five years. Another possible factor is that this is a non-union facility. The way OSHA and EPA usually do inspections is to follow up on complaints from workers. Non-union workforces, as potentially more vulnerable to firing for "outing" their bosses, are less likely to make such reports.

Democracy Now! has an interesting interview/report on this: No OSHA Inspections at Texas Plant in 5 Years: Are We Doing Enough to Protect Workplace Safety?


Just to put this all into some perspective - this is extremely uncommon given the scale of fertilizer facilities in just the USA alone. This was a retail site, not a production site. There are about 40 production sites in the USA and as many as 6,000 retail sites like the one that exploded in Texas.

So it's rare. Given the billions upon billions of dollars and sheer tonnage of explosive fertilizer that is imported, produced, transported and sold in the USA this is clearly a highly uncommon and rare tragedy. I did some checking and there have been a total of 17 recorded fertilizer explosions on the entire planet over the last 90 years.

This is tragic. But it's not common. It indicates mistakes or carelessness on the part of somebody or a group, but not a horrible and destructive anti-union plague of death that is about to sweep America because unions aren't in charge.

Farming is inherently dangerous and tragedy is common in the industry... just not typically on this scale. I will agree with one point - OSHA is underfunded. Whether that's overall a good or bad thing, this tragedy wasn't caused by OSHA not having more money.
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DWTripp wrote:


This is tragic. But it's not common. It indicates mistakes or carelessness on the part of somebody or a group, but not a horrible and destructive anti-union plague of death that is about to sweep America because unions aren't in charge.


So shall we heave a sigh of relief then, that anti-union plagues of death don't strike when unions are in charge? Or shall we just speculate on the limits of your willingness to parse the shit that you post?
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