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A Few Words Re Fertilizer Explosion & Implications

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From “Texas plant explosion highlights gutting of health and safety rules” by Andre Damon.

4-17-13, Wednesday, West Fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas

20 miles north of Waco (close to compound where in 1993 after FBI assault on religious compound 76 men, women and children died in a fire which inspired Timothy McVeigh to perpetrate the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people -- West, TX explosion took place within 2 days of their anniversaries)

14 people dead

200 injured

60 missing

2.1 on the Richter scale

mushroom cloud billowed over town

residents compared explosion to the “dropping of a bomb”

blew out windows for nearly 2 miles

heard more than 40 miles away

leveled 75 homes

destroyed 50-unit apartment building

damaged a school

most of town’s volunteer fire dept. killed, injured, missing

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) records show last inspection of said fertilizer storage and distribution facility was 28 YEARS AGO (when they received a $30 fine for “improper storage and handling of anhydrous ammonia and improper respiratory protection for workers”)

On EPA filing facility’s operators stated no risk for fire or explosion -- worst case scenario would be ten-minute release of ammonia gas as minimal safety hazard

NOT THE EXCEPTION BUT THE RULE, THIS SITUATION

SEVERE REGULATORY AND ZONING FAILURES AFTER DECADES OF DEREGULATION AND GUTTING OF GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT OF PRIVATE COMPANIES (A PROCESS ACCELERATED UNDER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION)

4 million industrial accidents a year in America

11,000 every day

4,600 deaths in 2011 from work-related injuries (90/week or 13/day)

Between OSHA and state agencies there are only 2,200 inspectors responsible for enforcing safety of 130 million workers in America -- or 1 inspector for every 59,000 (regular inspections now foregone, mostly followup investigations AFTER fatalities, multiple hospitalizations or formal complaint (at the risk of one’s job))

In 1977 OSHA had 37 inspectors for every million workers, today only 22 for every million workers

Sequester budget cuts will reduce the number of inspectors further

Threats of layoffs prevent workers from speaking out against unsafe conditions

“Subordination of all social questions to the accumulation of wealth” in private ownership of means of production

The elite monopolizes political life through two corporate-controlled parties, “which uphold the ‘right’ of owners to dictatorial control of the workplace”

There is a colossal degree of depraved indifference of the political and corporate elite on working class profit “fodder” workers of America

West Fertilizer’s waiting-to-happen accident is only most recent in string of industrial disasters over past decade due to major infractions of workplace safety

Some examples of these which were due to lack of oversight and/or deliberate overlooking of dangerous conditions:

March 23, 2005 -- 15 workers killed, over 170 injured in BP’s Texas City’s refinery from major explosion

Jan. 2, 2006 -- 12 miners died in Sago, WV after mine explosion and collapse

Feb. 2, 2008 -- 14 people dead in sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth, GA

April 5, 2010 -- 29 miners killed in Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, WV (“gross negligence” conclusion but company fined ONLY $10 million, and only one low-level superintendent prosecuted)

April 20, 2011 -- 11 workers dead after explosion of Deepwater Horizon oil rig in Gulf of Mexico (negligence of BP and Transocean, also causing largest environmental disaster in U.S. history)

THE CARNAGE/COLLATERAL DAMAGE FOR CORPORATE PROFITEERING IS DESTINED TO ESCALATE IN OBAMA’S SEQUESTERED AND AUSTERITY-TORTURED AMERICA!

How else can the fat cats pay themselves $9000 an hour??? How else can the fat cats bribe the faux-representatives of the American citizens to betray said citizens COLOSSALLY???

[cross-posted on open salon]

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Comments

Submitted by chadwick newsome on

When I first heard of the events in West, Texas, I wondered in writing in a blog somewhere in the sphere, whether there would be a singing of the national anthem and a presidential visit, complete with an extolling of the Texans' courage in the face of adversity. And an investigation into the tragedy and a bringing to justice of those responsible.

But I figured, no, it wouldn't happen. When plutocrats shred a few peons, nothing ever does.

apishapa's picture
Submitted by apishapa on

Well, I think the owners are ass murderers and shuold face the same penalty as that kid in Boston. They had over 1000 times the allowed volume of a known explosive stored there in violation of the law. They were required to notify DHS of its presence. They didn't they planted a giant bomb in the middle of town and waited for it to blow the whole town to kingdom come. I know the town doesn't blame the owners (most of them probably work there), but they should. They think they didn't "mean" for it to happen. Well they had a responsibility to that town to actively prevent it from happening, and they didn't make any effort to do that either.

They flouted the law because they were greedy and they murdered their neighbors. The only difference between this and "terrorism" is the ideaology behind the act. They were motivated by greed and money, rather than religious fanaticism. I don't see how that is more forgivable, but you can bet they will not be held to account.