« »

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Texas fertilizer plant at heart of disaster ignored disclosure laws

Reuters: 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.
“It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement. “This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up.”

Shockingly, for a business that has the potential to turn into a giant bomb, West Fertilizer was given almost no government oversight. the Dallas Morning News has reported that the company self-reported that it “presented no risk of fire or explosion.” Apparently, there was no follow up inspections to make sure the company’s self-reporting was accurate. The result of this misplaced trust in the management of such a dangerous enterprise may have resulted in a disaster that is — at the very least — nearly five times as deadly as both Boston Marathon bombs put together. The death toll is now at fourteen and is almost certain to rise.

Someone needs to go to prison for this. But we also need to stop pretending that federal oversight is a bad thing. It’s policing and “regulations” is just a PR buzzword used because it sounds more unreasonable than “laws.” Not all policing and every federal law overseeing business is a bad thing. I don’t care what some Republican or Blue Dog tells you. We need government oversight of business, because the honor system just plain isn’t working.

And people are dying as a result.

[photo by The Bay Area’s News Station]

Search Archive:

Custom Search