Besides Water on Chemicals, Helps If the Fertilzer Plant Is Upfront

about what’s inside.

Texas Fertilizer Plant Didn’t Heed Disclosure Rules Before Blast

The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate—which can also be used in bomb-making—unaware of any danger there.

Fertilizer plants and depots must report to the DHS when they hold 400 lb (180 kg) or more of the substance. Filings this year with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which weren’t shared with DHS, show the plant had 270 tons of it on hand last year.

Sweet Mary, Mother of God.

That’d make a difference in how Big the Bang is.

7 Responses to “Besides Water on Chemicals, Helps If the Fertilzer Plant Is Upfront”

  1. Julie says:

    This is like the PEPCON explosion in Nevada years ago. After the shuttle crash, no one told the plant to stop making the explosive that’s used in the rocket boosters, so it just stockpiled until one day… Google the video. It’s astounding.

  2. aelfheld says:

    With the ever-widening stream of regulations pouring out of D.C. why is anyone surprised that a small plant might not be up on all the reporting requirements.

    This is how large corporations take care of upstarts and stay large; by encouraging ‘reasonable’ regulations they load up smaller outfits with crippling compliance costs. If the effort to keep up doesn’t kill them off, the aftermath of missing some obscure, but fatal, clause in a phone book sized regulatory update.

  3. JeffS says:

    That’s a good point, aelfheld.

  4. mojo says:

    And the “they only made Anhydrous Ammonia” line falls by the wayside.

    Your first clue: Anhydrous Ammonia is not easily flammable, although it’s mighty nasty if it gets loose.

  5. skh.pcola says:

    Railcars can carry 100 tons, so 270 tons of the stuff isn’t really all that much. It’s also about 10 tractor-trailer truck loads. There’s a lot of agriculture in that area and the reporting threshold of 400 pounds (!) is ludicrously small.

  6. Mr. Bingley says:

    Moose bites can be pretty nasty, mojo.

  7. Nobrainer says:

    Seems like an effective regulatory regime. Right out of Monty Python or Catch-22.

Image | WordPress Themes