i think the word you’re looking for is ‘negligence.’ it’ll come to you buddy.
This week, Rick Perry will visit Chicago in an attempt to poach Illinois businesses from the Land of Lincoln.
Surely he’ll tout lower tax burdens, a lax regulatory environment, and um, he’ll probably forget the 3rd one, but I’m pretty sure it could relate to zoning, workers’ comp requirements, or possibly
the dangerous lack of potable water climate.
Maybe Exhibit #1 should be the explosion at Adair Grain Inc.’s Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas.
While vocal politicians and media members are quick to blame the Boston bombing on the whole of Chechnya, the Muslim World, and Russia (let’s throw in the Czech Republic for the hell of it because we’re idiots), most have merely shrugged instead of shedding light on the Texas tragedy that is responsible for at least 14 deaths and 200 hundred injuries.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown, preliminary investigations into the West, Texas explosions indicate the following:
- OSHA hadn’t visited the plant since 1985. You would think an agency with a $500 million budget would be able to inspect…um, no that’s about right. It’s almost as if there was someone in an important position of power around that time who loved to villainize government workers. (OSHA also lost 8% of its budget in the sequester);
- Complaints of ammonia smells triggered state investigation in 2006;
- “In its report to the EPA in 2011, West Fertilizer said its worst-case scenario was a release of one of its storage tanks of anhydrous ammonia “as a gas over 10 minutes.” It said nothing of fire risk. It also said nothing of ammonium nitrate at the site.” [NPR]
- But aw shit, looks like they didn’t look for that ammonium nitrate behind Door Number #AllOfThem.
But according to records from the Texas Department of State Health Services obtained by StateImpact Texas, the plant had as much as 270 tons of ammonium nitrate at the site in 2012. To put that in perspective, the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, which killed 168 and injured hundreds, used 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate mixed with other chemicals and diesel fuel, or about 2.4 tons.
- Math: This is 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). So National Security, too!! Still…*crickets*
- In February, a school in West evacuated because of a fire at this fertilizer plant. [LGM]
- A school, you say?
- Actually 2 schools are located across the street. Lax zoning laws allowed a school and homes within a pigskin’s toss of the plant and a nursing home is located 4 blocks away.
- The plant was fined by the Environmental Protection agency in 2006 for failing to have a risk management plan that met federal standards, an EPA report shows. A whole $2,300.
- Did I already point out that The Dallas Morning News uncovered an EPA report revealing that West Fertilizer Co. reported the “worst possible scenario … would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would or injure no one?”
Again – at least 14 dead. 200 injured.
Media members and political vultures are quick to swoop in on any hint of terrorism driven by misguided Muslim ideology. After all, there’s a pattern that emerged in the mid/late 90s that can’t be ignored (like the similar pattern of right wing terrorism that is ignored.)
But while we’re looking for patterns, and more importantly the roots of such patterns, let’s look at the state sold by the elected officials and purchased by Big Business. A state that touts ‘tort reform,’ a lack of meddlesome unions, and that employers don’t have to own Workers’ Comp insurance:
Texas leads the nation in workplace fatalities, with 433 deaths in 2011. That’s nearly a hundred more than California, which has six million more people in its workforce.
Tragic but predictable?
West, Texas and Boston, MA have more in common than at first glance. The striking similarities concern the innocence of the victims and the bravery of the first responders. While we don’t know the precise motivation for the bombings or the exact cause of the explosion, the tragedies tore up their respective communities, though I’m guessing Small Town Texas will take longer to heal.
While the coverage of Boston quickly devolved into nauseating speculation and repetition, at least the public stayed generally informed.
So whenever the Media and our elected officials want to lend their powerful pulpits to the Texas tragedy, please proceed, because it’s long overdue.