Skip to comments.Texas Plant Told State it Could Not Explode
Posted on 04/18/2013 2:02:16 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd
(Newser) – News outlets are digging into the West Fertilizer plant's regulatory filings and finding that, in light of the explosion that may have killed as many as 15 people and injured about 160, the plant might have undersold the risks a tad. While the company did tell regulators it had up to 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand, it said there was "no" fire or explosive risk, Fox News reports. It said the absolute worst-case scenario would be an essentially harmless 10-minute gas leak.
In other developments:
I've stopped at the Czech Stop a million times for Kolaches. One time I drove a few blocks off the interstate and was very impressed at their quaint downtown and the overall charm of this small little town in Texas.
One thing that isn’t clear, some news reports say anhydrous ammonia, some say ammonium nitrate.
Which is it? Does anyone know?
I think both.
Does this mean we now have to ban crap?
Anhydrous ammonia - 2 - 12,000 gallon storage tanks per reporter who saw the permit. Anhyd ammonia is ntypically non-flammable. So they are correct in their filing on that.
Anyhd ammonia can explode, but it has a very tight explosion range, between 13-15 wt percent. Because of this, ammonia explosions are rare. They usually happen when there is a ready flame source (as there was with the huge fire in this case) and the vapor relase is contained somehow (usually indoors).
They also had nitric acid, and perhaps made the ammonium nitrate directly on the site.
Amm nitrate is also not very explosive (unless it is mixed with fuel oil - See Timothy McVeigh and Ok city) (See also the Texas City disaster).
So absent a planned terrorist attack, they should have been correct.
From what I have read it was both. The anhydrous ammonia was the likely fuel for the initial fire that spread to ignite the ammonium nitrate explosion.
IIRC from another article, a RR tank car had the anhydrous ammonia and blew up near the plant and the resulting fire to the plant set off it's ammonium nitrate.
The chief hazard with ammonia storage is the potential for the release of a large, deadly, ground hugging cloud. See ‘The Desert Tortoise’ videos where the government tested releases of large amounts of ammonia to simulate a 3/4” line failuer on a vessel.
Such clouds can be suppressed with a water spray.
Historical disasters show that fmost fatalities from such a cloud occur within 500 feet of the release source.
Amm nitrate is also not very explosive
The people of Texas City will greatly disagree.
The Texas City Disaster
According to their permit application for the TWO tanks, it was Anhydrous Ammonia.
For the media’s claim regarding the plant undersold the hazard, I will direct all FReepers to read and consider this article:
Why You Dont Use the DOT Emergency Response Guidebook for Incidents Involving Anhydrous Ammonia at a Fixed Facility! http://my.firefighternation.com/forum/topics/889755:Topic:2841048
If the plant followed all of the hazard guidelines as required by the EPA and OSHA, no one at the plant would have understood the hazards. Hell, the NFPA label indicates no explosive/fire hazard.
This is a darn good case of following and trusting regulations...and the regulations being wrong! The NFPA does recognize the hazard and the MSDA doesn’t list that hazard.
I don’t suppose it could explode if it weren’t on fire.
You break it, you buy it.
Has anyone seen any aerial photos of the damage? A Link would be appreciated!
There’s a pic here.
I keep checking Drudge Report and he has links to CBS DFW and they seem to have the latest info with pictures.
Why isn’t Obama racing down there to “comfort” the people?
Oh, wait, there’s no political profit from it.
“Oh, wait, theres no political profit from it.”
He will if and only if it turns out to be a industrial accident. He will then proceed to attack theses people’s livelihood with more oppressive regulations that will do nothing to enhance safely and exist primarily to prohibit economic activity.
Ammonium nitrate is highly explosive if a large volume of it is contained within a strong container such as a ocean freighter.
Through the 1940's there were several ammonium nitrate explosions in bulk cargo ocean freighters.
Texas City is our worst example. Changes in the manner of loading and shipping prevented further disasters like Texas City.
Well Ammonium Nitrate is white, NOT organic and therefore obviously evil.
I once worked at a chemical plant that made ammonium nitrate and di-ammonium phosphate. There was the ammonia plant where the natural gas was pumped in. There was a phosphuric acid plant. And there was a urea plant. I assume there were nitrates being brought in from somewhere.
Anyway, we smoked all over the place and nobody seemed to worry about an explosion.
Sometimes when we walked through the plant we’d get into an ammonia cloud. We’d wait for it to dissapate but sometimes it wouldn’t. We’d run into the nearest building to catch our breath.