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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Finger Pointing And Few Answers After Texas Explosion

In this photo provided by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Lucas Lambert, left, removes belongings from his mother's residence in the apartment complex destroyed by a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, Saturday, April 27, 2012. (Earl Nottingham/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department via AP)

In this photo provided by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Lucas Lambert, left, removes belongings from his mother’s residence in the apartment complex destroyed by a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, Saturday, April 27, 2012. (Earl Nottingham/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department via AP)

It’s still not known why a fertilizer plant exploded in April in West, Texas, on April 17.

The blast killed 14 people, leveled homes and destroyed two schools and a nursing home. It left a crater 93-feet across and 10-feet deep.

“For the local government and for state officials not to stop and think of the dangers that that posed to the nearby residents is just unthinkable.”

Texas state officials say local officials should have educated the 2,800 residents about the risk of building close to the plant.

But West Mayor Tommy Muska says he had no jurisdiction over the plant.

“The plant has just been there forever. It’s been there all my life – I’m 55 years old and it’s been there since I was born,” Muska told Here & Now. “Technically, it’s not in the city limits, it’s out in the country.”

Muska says homes, schools and a nursing home were built around the plant over the years.

“There’s questions – you can always go back and ask questions and Monday quarterback,” he said. “But that’s an integral part of our community because this is an agricultural community.”

Dallas Morning News editorial writer Tod Robberson says it’s now known that 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer were stored at the plant.

“It’s a huge amount of ammonium nitrate,” Robberson told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “For the local government and for state officials not to stop and think of the dangers that that posed to the nearby residents is just unthinkable. Especially having the history in Texas – the Texas City disaster back in 1947, where a similar quantity of ammonium nitrate exploded and pretty much obliterated the town.”

Robberson writes in a recent editorial that West residents were kept in the dark about the hazardous chemicals stored at the plant, because of a little-known Texas law aimed at keeping such information secret from terrorists.

Latest coverage by Dallas Morning News:

Millions of people in the U.S. live and work near high-risk chemical plants. Are you eyeing one? Or do you think your town has a handle on yours? Tell us on Facebook or in the comments.

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  • Lee

    Fingerpointing is to be expected when so many different organizations did not prevent the disaster.

    I find it particularly interesting that The Mayor of West, Texas, appears to be abdicating the city’s culpability for allowing development so close to the fertilizer facility by stating that the facility itself is outside the city limit.

  • Lana Reese

    I think I’ve heard more about the officials than the victims. Of those 2,800 residents how many of them are missing a limb? 

    • Villa

      There’s never talk about the victims in a situation like this. If they do decide to put more coverage on the people, I hope they bring attention to things like the MEBO/MEBT treatment system.

    • Rick W

      Amputations certainly weren’t as high in the explosion, despite the larger number of victims. It’s terrible what those people now have to go through. Wish there were more treatments available and we didn’t have to turn to amputation…

  • NReese1

    I keep hearing about that. What’s the status of it?

    • Villa

      The status of MEBO/MEBT? It’s currently in use by the World Health Organization and awaiting FDA approval here. There are many success stories of MEBO’s treatment from the Sichaun earthquake that you can look up if you would like to learn more about it.  

      • Lana Reese

        If MEBO/MEBT this is such a gamechanger for the medical community, then why isn’t it here in the US…Oh that’s right: if it’s not making money for an insurance company, then we won’t here about it. The face that we don’t have it her makes me feel like it’s that much more legit. 

  • Lana Reese

    Fingerpointing won’t help these victims, but restorative science and medicine like MEBO treatment will. Focus on the people and let the state governments clean up their own mess.

  • Duncalicious

    Isn’t it interesting the excuses the rich will make up? These are the same people who won’t let real-life treatments into the country that could help these victims in amazing ways. Regenerative medicine is the way to go, just not in America.

  • DJW

    Where chemicals are stored isn’t the only thing our government is keeping secret for us. They’re keeping appendage saving treatments like MEBO away from us too. If it doesn’t make money, you won’t here about it here. 

  • NathanReese1

    I don’t think that’s fair @DJW Our government is aware of Dr. XU’s MEBO/MEBT treatment. Right now it’s just going through FDA approval. Would you want something given to a family member before it’s been properly vetted?

  • DJW

    Do you even know what you’re talkig about? If it’s been to WORK ON PEOPLE after a devastating earthquake and is in use all over the globe, how much vetted do you need it to be. MEBO has saved people at the point of amputation from losing limbs and has been shown to regenerate skin, cells, and tisses. Go check out MEBO International before you post another misguided comment. 

  • Cjtown2

    About West & Regulations about this. Russia has very, very loose regs about explosives, & explosives are stored together to make for efficient movement of explosives by ship, etc. This is done Not as an oversight, but by INTENT & well thought out rationale  That is what caused the Horrible NUC Accident there. They set their Safety Factors as a Nation very loosely  because it has not been long since USSR citizens “starved in the dark”. They needed efficiency desperately, & were willing to take Big Risks to make progress FAST.

    The French are Middle of the road Risk- takers. Their Safety Factors are Much more strict than Russia’s are. BUT are about 1/2 as strict as those in the USA. For instance France has NEVER built concrete towers at their NUC PWR PLTS – Never. They do other things that USA NUC regs will not allow. But then electricity from French NUC PWR PLTS is about 1/2 the cost of that in the USA. And considering that the USA has concrete towers for all its NUC PWR PLTS that cost $M’s to build, & for the last 30 + yrs we have had them, they have never ever been needed or used.  Also, there is a rubber-covered tower inside every concrete tower, which make these extremely expensive. Briefly, the USA ALWAYS builds GIGANIC concrete towers at each NUC PWR PLT but none of these have ever been needed for over 30 yrs which makes our elec from these plts cost twice as much as otherwise. The French have never built a concrete tower at their NUC PWR PLTS & they have never been needed, thus get their elec from them at 1/2 our cost.

     THE REASON WE ALL ACT THIS WAY IS  BECAUSE EACH NATION HAS CAREFULLY ESTABLISHED SAFETY FACTORS TO REGULATE RISKY ACTIVITIES.  These factors are very lose in Russia, Middle for the French & very TIGHT for the USA. These safety factors also apply to explosives where Russia has lost MUCH human life in accidents because when a FIRE breaks out it can spread FAST when the explosives are stored close together. Not so in the USA where explosives are not allowed to be stored close together, & we have had very few large fires w/explosives. Not only has Russia lost innocent lives & lots of explosives by doing this, more than once when a fire broke out here, they sent their highly trained, highly tech crews in to control these fires & these very valuable highly trained people also were killed. 

    I DO believe those Nation-Wide Safety Factors do apply to West. Why FED / State inspectors did not inspect these facilities is unknown to me. Yes, it would have COST money to inspect, & added SAFETY measures would have COST money, but in this case, many innocent lives would have been saved. 

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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