Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » City of West, Texas, suffers massive fertilizer explosion

   
Author Topic: City of West, Texas, suffers massive fertilizer explosion
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROrpKx3aIjA&feature=youtu.be

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57580172/ems-60-dead-over-100-injured-in-texas-fertilizer-plant-blast/

over 60 dead so far, and that number is likely to climb very significantly.

Posts: 14067 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tittles
Member
Member # 12939

 - posted      Profile for Tittles           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's been a bad week.
Posts: 200 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
addendum: given we have just had adventures in terrible first-strike journalism, I'm going to put the fatality number in the "who even knows" category, and I'll hope it's just some panicked BS number and that the actual casualty rate is far lower.
Posts: 14067 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BlackBlade
Member
Member # 8376

 - posted      Profile for BlackBlade   Email BlackBlade         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I just. I don't even.
Posts: 14191 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
James Tiberius Kirk
Member
Member # 2832

 - posted      Profile for James Tiberius Kirk           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There are two schools, a row of apartments, and nursing home within one block of the plant. A playground and a pair of tennis courts are across the street.

The apartments are nearly destroyed, the school is reportedly on fire, and there was a early report that the nursing home had collapsed and several people were pulled out.

The Dallas Morning News says that the plant itself reported that it had "no fire risk." Earlier this year the school was evacuated due to a fire at the plant: this is letter [pdf] they sent home at the time.

[ April 18, 2013, 04:10 AM: Message edited by: James Tiberius Kirk ]

Posts: 3607 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tittles
Member
Member # 12939

 - posted      Profile for Tittles           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Why the hell would a fertilizer factory be allowed to be within a block of those buildings? Shouldn't there be a law or building codes or something, make it so there has to be at least ten or twenty miles distance to the nearest residential area.
Posts: 200 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
James Tiberius Kirk
Member
Member # 2832

 - posted      Profile for James Tiberius Kirk           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Tittles:
Why the hell would a fertilizer factory be allowed to be within a block of those buildings? Shouldn't there be a law or building codes or something, make it so there has to be at least ten or twenty miles distance to the nearest residential area.

The plant probably precedes the town around it. Normally it would be a NIMBY type of structure, but I imagine the land around it is pretty cheap.
Posts: 3607 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
James Tiberius Kirk
Member
Member # 2832

 - posted      Profile for James Tiberius Kirk           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Fires reported all over the place. The purple camera marks the location of Samp's video above.

http://goo.gl/maps/eyPOb

*

quote:
“It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonium nitrate, and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb,” said Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Czech Best Western Hotel in West.
...

“That whole side of town looks like a disaster,” Bill Manolakis said. “Who in their right mind sticks a damn plant next to houses?”

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20130417-live-video-fertilizer-plant-explosion-injures-dozens-in-west-near-waco1.ece

[ April 18, 2013, 02:35 AM: Message edited by: James Tiberius Kirk ]

Posts: 3607 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kwea
Member
Member # 2199

 - posted      Profile for Kwea   Email Kwea         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Texas. Welcome to the results of unchecked commerce. Who needs those pesky zoning laws!
Posts: 14994 | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by James Tiberius Kirk:
quote:
Originally posted by Tittles:
Why the hell would a fertilizer factory be allowed to be within a block of those buildings? Shouldn't there be a law or building codes or something, make it so there has to be at least ten or twenty miles distance to the nearest residential area.

The plant probably precedes the town around it. Normally it would be a NIMBY type of structure, but I imagine the land around it is pretty cheap.
The plant was about 60 years old. Given how notoriously terrible Texas is about zoning and sensible regulation, that's more than plenty enough time for the free market to inspire developers to crawl right up on and around it via the whims of people who decide that lower land value created by proximity to literally fifty four thousand pounds of anhydrous ammonia and fertilizer and some grain elevators means "whoa hey with real estate so dirt cheap here we can build here with lower overhead!"

Which meant one of the things built in the shadow of West's grain elevators and gigantic future fertilizer bomb (which apparently had just reported to the EPA and local public safety officials that it posed literally no risk of what just happened) was a nursing home, schools, apartment complexes. I don't even want to know what else.

Posts: 14067 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Rabbit
Member
Member # 671

 - posted      Profile for The Rabbit   Email The Rabbit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It sounds like what happened was a BLEVE.

It really is a bit of a freak accident. Anhydrous Ammonia isn't flammable and isn't an explosive (unlike ammonium nitrate). I'd normally associate a BLEVE with a flammable liquid like LPG, but even water can BLEVE if its heated enough in sealed pressure vessel. This isn't the first time the possibility of a BLEVE was not recognized and lead to a disaster but it's happened enough times now that it certainly should have been considered in the safety plans.

Posts: 12590 | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Orincoro
Member
Member # 8854

 - posted      Profile for Orincoro   Email Orincoro         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by James Tiberius Kirk:
quote:
Originally posted by Tittles:
Why the hell would a fertilizer factory be allowed to be within a block of those buildings? Shouldn't there be a law or building codes or something, make it so there has to be at least ten or twenty miles distance to the nearest residential area.

The plant probably precedes the town around it. Normally it would be a NIMBY type of structure, but I imagine the land around it is pretty cheap.
The plant was about 60 years old. Given how notoriously terrible Texas is about zoning and sensible regulation, that's more than plenty enough time for the free market to inspire developers to crawl right up on and around it via the whims of people who decide that lower land value created by proximity to literally fifty four thousand pounds of anhydrous ammonia and fertilizer and some grain elevators means "whoa hey with real estate so dirt cheap here we can build here with lower overhead!"

Which meant one of the things built in the shadow of West's grain elevators and gigantic future fertilizer bomb (which apparently had just reported to the EPA and local public safety officials that it posed literally no risk of what just happened) was a nursing home, schools, apartment complexes. I don't even want to know what else.

Yeah but see, the free market will correct for this by something something something so that this doesn't happen.

So there.

Posts: 9552 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
NobleHunter
Member
Member # 12043

 - posted      Profile for NobleHunter           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Since this is right above the Boston thread, for a moment I read the title as "Holy crap! West, Texas, suffers massive fertilizer explosion."
Posts: 58 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilnar
Member
Member # 12931

 - posted      Profile for Gilnar   Email Gilnar         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Please don't lump all cities in Texas into the "too stupid to do the right thing" category, just because of one city's possible failure to follow sound urban planning principles. Most Texas cities take zoning seriously, especially the part about ensuring compatible adjoining land uses.

Other than Houston, which is famous for not having any local zoning regulations, all of the medium to large cities in Texas have strong zoning regulations, subject to the usual variable of local elected official idiocy (which is hardly a Texas-only problem).

A possible explanation here is that the factory was originally founded outside the city limits and certain land uses (such as at least one of the reported neighborhoods)developed around the factory with no municipal regulations in place.

Also, school districts in Texas have been held to have the right to place their schools wherever they deem suitable, regardless of city zoning regulations. The rationale by the Texas Supreme Court (in 1973) was that school boards, being elected officials of co-equal stature with city council members, have the right to determine where to put their buildings. The Court assumed, perhaps optimistically, that these local elected school officials would have the same concerns for health and safety as city officials, and would not place a school next to an incompatible land use.

Posts: 7 | Registered: Jan 2013  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Orincoro
Member
Member # 8854

 - posted      Profile for Orincoro   Email Orincoro         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gilnar:
Please don't lump all cities in Texas into the "too stupid to do the right thing" category, just because of one city's possible failure to follow sound urban planning principles. Most Texas cities take zoning seriously, especially the part about ensuring compatible adjoining land uses.

Goes on to mention that Texas allows schools to be built wherever the district feels like, and that the city was probably built up around the factory, which for some reason, even though it produces the same result as placing a factory in among a developed area, makes it ok.
Posts: 9552 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Misha McBride
Member
Member # 6578

 - posted      Profile for Misha McBride           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Not that my lovely state has a great track record for this sort of thing, but West was a tiny tiny town with a population of about 2500. There were no real "zones" to speak of because the town was miniscule. Just the plant (which was built sometime in the 50's or 60's), the houses built for the employees of the plant and their families, and the schools for their children. One retirement home for their elderly. One little volunteer fire department that didn't know doodly squat about how to deal with a fire involving ammonium nitrate. Very sad. [Frown]

It was a town notable for being composed mostly of Czech immigrants and their descendants and was an awesome place to get kolaches and pastries if you were passing through from Waco to Dallas. They also had an annual celebration of Czech culture called Westfest that I attended once in my youth. Oh, and Willie Nelson used to own a house there before the IRS seized a lot of his assets.

[ April 19, 2013, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: Misha McBride ]

Posts: 262 | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
James Tiberius Kirk
Member
Member # 2832

 - posted      Profile for James Tiberius Kirk           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Everyone familiar with the area who has spoken about it has mentioned the kolaches. They must be amazing.
Posts: 3607 | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2