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Texas fertilizer plant explosion last night
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Apr 18, 2013, 12:37 PM
 
Surprised nobody posted about this yet, since it is pretty newsworthy...

A fertilizer plant in a very small town south of Waco, TX exploded at about 8:00 CST last night. Registered as a 2.1 seismic event, destroyed homes in a four-block radius, and damaged many more. Dead count is varying wildly, from 5 to 70. A nursing home had to be evacuated, the area around the explosion is currently a no-fly zone, and the US Marine Corps has sent in experts to determine how toxic the air is right now...

Huffpo estimated deaths at 60-70. CNN currently estimates 5-15 and counting, so who knows.

So far no foul play is suspected, and I'm guessing this was an accident, but it's very sad nonetheless.

Firefighters missing after massive, deadly Texas blast - CNN.com

Fertilizer Plant Explosion In Texas Levels Buildings, Claims As Many As 15 Lives (VIDEO/PHOTOS/LIVE UPDATES)

Police say between 5 and 15 people killed in Texas fertilizer plant explosion, more than 160 hurt | Fox News
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 12:38 PM
 
Yeah, what I heard was that some rather combustible material was possibly exposed to heat from a blaze firefighters were putting out.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 01:36 PM
 
Wow. That's horrible.

Why was a fertilizer plant so close to residential areas? Isn't this why we have zoning?

Among them was Julie Zahirniako, who said she and her son, Anthony, had been at a school playground near the plant when the explosion hit.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 01:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Wow. That's horrible.

Why was a fertilizer plant so close to residential areas? Isn't this why we have zoning?
Hearsay, but I heard A) THat area has no zoning laws; B. The plant was there first and everything was built around it
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 02:07 PM
 
There was also a nursing home very close to the plant.

I'm guessing it's the second one - plant first, residential development later.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 02:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
There was also a nursing home very close to the plant.

I'm guessing it's the second one - plant first, residential development later.
It'd have to be both.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 03:26 PM
 
There was a case in new england where people who lived next to a pig farm forced them to move. Even though the farm was there for something like 50 years and the houses were all less than a year old when the complaints were filed. It doesn't take long for stupid situations like this to occur.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 05:33 PM
 
Okay, that pisses me off. Pig farms are disgusting and smell TERRIBLE (there is very little worse than the smell of a pig farm, tbh), but if you choose to build a house near a pig farm, you need to live with that choice - not punish the people who established their farm.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 06:12 PM
 
If a town is planned well, then there are zones for commercial districts, and residential. That way, the noise/smoke etc from the factories don't bother the residents, never mind destroy their homes and schools.

The farmers who subdivide their land and sell parcels to city folk looking to go "rural" but without all that pesky nature, are not the same. A pig farm is unlikely to explode, unless it's in Bartertown, that is. Buyers need to deal with their surroundings, and be aware of them. I recall a similar case with a horse farm, some neighbors complained of being downwind. Stupid.

Chances are, the land near the fertilizer plant was cheap, for a reason.
     
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Apr 18, 2013, 10:02 PM
 
It's actually not a plant, it's just a storage facility for fertilizer. The scene is being treated as a crime scene. I'm not sure why this isn't being more widely covered, but DFW area news is more in tune (obviously). One of my good friends lives only 9 miles away, it set off car alarms even that far away.

Source: Dallas Fire-Rescue firefighter dead; search and rescue continues in West | wfaa.com Dallas - Fort Worth
     
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Apr 19, 2013, 02:57 PM
 
imitchellg5, the article you linked to says several times it is a plant. As well every news show I saw referred to it as a plant where they made fertilizer which was distributed to storage centers. In fact one news show explained this ingredient was stored here, and that ingredient was stored there, both ingredients used for fertilizer. You got something that says it wasn't a plant?

edit: Seems to be a Fertilizer Storage and Mixing Facility according to this http://www12.tceq.state.tx.us/crpub/...48510322001346
( Last edited by Leonard; Apr 19, 2013 at 03:13 PM. )
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Apr 19, 2013, 03:41 PM
 
I talked with a friend who lives in Corpus Christi and she said the explosion woke her out a sound sleep, that's 300mi.
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Apr 19, 2013, 07:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post
imitchellg5, the article you linked to says several times it is a plant. As well every news show I saw referred to it as a plant where they made fertilizer which was distributed to storage centers. In fact one news show explained this ingredient was stored here, and that ingredient was stored there, both ingredients used for fertilizer. You got something that says it wasn't a plant?

edit: Seems to be a Fertilizer Storage and Mixing Facility according to this TCEQ CR Query - Regulated Entity Information
It refers to it as a plant, but near the bottom of the article it says this:
According to records from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the plant worked with anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas. While the facility is known as a plant to those who live in the area, it's actually a fertilizer chemical storage facility. No fertilizer is actually made at the site.
     
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Apr 21, 2013, 01:02 PM
 
I live a lot closer to West than Corpus is, and there is no way that explosion was felt that far away. I've also been through West, many times. It is a tiny spot where first some farms, then some businesses, and then some homes were built. A "properly planned community" presumes that such a place was planned out thoroughly prior to its existence being realized. Tiny communities all over the U.S. have "just grown up" without planning.

This disaster is an example of how a multiplicity of problems can finally add up to become a disaster in the making. Anhydrous ammonia is a very nasty chemical that is poisonous, but not flammable or explosive. Until the development of Freon, ammonia was used as a commercial refrigerant, and is in fact still used as such on the ISS. It is also used to enhance the effectiveness of a variety of nitrate compounds as fertilizer. I don't know how this facility operated, but it was grandfathered from compliance with state environmental and safety regulations, despite the fact that it had changed over the years from doing one sort of industrial process to doing another.

Pointing fingers is not helpful at this point. Learning from the event is. How are your local zoning rules enforced? Is there an industrial plant anywhere near you that has been there since dirt was invented? What does it do? At this point in time, my Esteemed Governor can actually do something other than model for men's hair care products and get something useful started in terms of finding and fixing this sort of problem elsewhere in Texas. Most likely he won't, because he isn't made of the right stuff to help the state when he could help himself, but it is at least a possibility.

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Apr 22, 2013, 09:15 AM
 
Fertilizer is inherently always explosive, for a very simple reason: nitrogen. The main thing fertilizer needs to add to the soil is nitrogen (in a form that the plants can absorb) and the main reason many explosives work the way they do is that nitrogen compounds break down to form N2, going from a compact to solid to an expanding cloud of gas and releasing a lot of energy in the process.

Ammonia in itself will not explode, but enough heat (or a catalyst) and it will react in the same manner and feed the explosion.
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Apr 22, 2013, 09:19 AM
 
     
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Apr 22, 2013, 03:22 PM
 
Not just any chemical - ammonium nitrate. If you don't recognize that chemical, it was the one used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 (was it really that long ago?) and the one in Oslo in 2011 - a favorite of home-grown terrorists everywhere. They exceeded the reporting limit by three orders of magnitude and then some. Someone needs to go to jail and never come out again.
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