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Texas Plant Told State it Could Not Explode
Newser ^ | 04/18/2013 | By Kevin Spak

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:


 


TOPICS: Extended News; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: explosion; westtexas
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My thoughts and prayers are with the families in West.

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.

1 posted on 04/18/2013 2:02:16 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd
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To: Responsibility2nd

One thing that isn’t clear, some news reports say anhydrous ammonia, some say ammonium nitrate.

Which is it? Does anyone know?


2 posted on 04/18/2013 2:09:04 PM PDT by Aqua225 (Realist)
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To: Aqua225

I think both.


3 posted on 04/18/2013 2:09:55 PM PDT by MarMema
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To: Responsibility2nd

Does this mean we now have to ban crap?


4 posted on 04/18/2013 2:18:30 PM PDT by dartuser (My firearm is not illegal ... its undocumented.)
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To: Aqua225

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.


5 posted on 04/18/2013 2:18:55 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Aqua225

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.


6 posted on 04/18/2013 2:19:41 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Aqua225
Which is it? Does anyone know?

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.

7 posted on 04/18/2013 2:21:02 PM PDT by BerryDingle (I know how to deal with communists, I still wear their scars on my back from Hollywood-Ronald Reagan)
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To: Aqua225

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.


8 posted on 04/18/2013 2:22:36 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
Anhydrous ammonia is classified by the Department of Transportation as nonflammable. However, ammonia vapor in high concentrations (16 to 25 percent by weight in air) will burn. It is unlikely that such concentrations will occur except in confined spaces or in the proximity of large spills.

http://svasd.com/images/1pm_Williams.pdf

Amm nitrate is also not very explosive

The people of Texas City will greatly disagree.

The Texas City Disaster
http://www.local1259iaff.org/disaster.html

9 posted on 04/18/2013 2:25:25 PM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Aqua225

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 Don’t 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.


10 posted on 04/18/2013 2:29:28 PM PDT by EBH (Warning this person is a Catholic, Tea Party Patriot, and owns a copy of Atlas Shurgged)
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To: Responsibility2nd

I don’t suppose it could explode if it weren’t on fire.


11 posted on 04/18/2013 2:36:37 PM PDT by Monorprise
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To: Responsibility2nd

You break it, you buy it.


12 posted on 04/18/2013 2:39:00 PM PDT by Theoria
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To: Responsibility2nd

Has anyone seen any aerial photos of the damage? A Link would be appreciated!


13 posted on 04/18/2013 2:41:05 PM PDT by Rebelbase (1929-1950's, 20+years for full recovery. How long this time?)
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To: Rebelbase

There’s a pic here.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2013/04/18/texas-rocked-by-fertilizer-plant-explosion/

I keep checking Drudge Report and he has links to CBS DFW and they seem to have the latest info with pictures.


14 posted on 04/18/2013 2:48:19 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: Responsibility2nd

Why isn’t Obama racing down there to “comfort” the people?

Oh, wait, there’s no political profit from it.


15 posted on 04/18/2013 3:01:20 PM PDT by traderrob6
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To: traderrob6

“Oh, wait, there’s 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.


16 posted on 04/18/2013 3:11:08 PM PDT by Monorprise
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To: Pikachu_Dad
Amm nitrate is also not very explosive

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.

17 posted on 04/18/2013 3:12:35 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Monorprise
He will then proceed to attack theses people’s livelihood with more oppressive regulations

Well Ammonium Nitrate is white, NOT organic and therefore obviously evil.

18 posted on 04/18/2013 3:20:40 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

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.


19 posted on 04/18/2013 3:58:03 PM PDT by VerySadAmerican
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To: Pikachu_Dad

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.


20 posted on 04/18/2013 3:59:45 PM PDT by VerySadAmerican
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To: Responsibility2nd

The owners of the Titanic said it couldn’t sink.


21 posted on 04/18/2013 4:08:03 PM PDT by BfloGuy (The economy is not a pie, but a bakery.)
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To: Navy Patriot

It is curious how such a non-organic substance could be so vital to farming. I understand its an important element in revitalizing the soil.

When I saw that explosion i was thinking about how all that energy being realized was intended to go into our food and thus power us.


22 posted on 04/18/2013 4:13:41 PM PDT by Monorprise
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To: BfloGuy

Somehow I don’t think that’s what the owners meant. Of course its going to explode if you get it hot enough and give it an ignition source as a major fire will do.

The local government knew this too which is why they started evacuating the town.


23 posted on 04/18/2013 4:18:25 PM PDT by Monorprise
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To: Monorprise
Well, of course all elemental building blocks of inorganic chemistry are the same as those of organic chemistry.

My "NOT organic" was a slam against the pop culture fad of "organic" foods grown with "organic" fertilizer as opposed to manufactured fertilizer, made from mineral deposits.

There is really no difference, as the elemental and compound chemicals are the same, just produced from different sources.

And yes, plants love nitrogen compounds, as there IS a lot of energy stored in the molecules. A wonderful system the Lord has created.

24 posted on 04/18/2013 4:59:46 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: thackney

Did you bother to read my post? Apparently not. Texas city explosion was caused when it was mixed with oil. Without the oil, it’s not an issue.


25 posted on 04/18/2013 5:46:55 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: VerySadAmerican

Yep. Now if you mix NOx with Aniline you can make diazonium nitrite - which is so unstable it is hard to collect a sample of.


26 posted on 04/18/2013 5:49:51 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Navy Patriot

Look it up. Fuel oil leaked into the ammonium ntrite.

According to our site explosion expert at the time of the Ok city bombing, the purity of the Amonium nitrite is important also. If they had sold a less pure product (95% or less), then the use as an explosive would have been negligible.


27 posted on 04/18/2013 5:53:01 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
Look it up. Fuel oil leaked into the ammonium ntrite (SIC).

According to our site explosion expert at the time of the Ok city bombing, the purity of the Amonium nitrite (SIC) is important also. If they had sold a less pure product (95% or less), then the use as an explosive would have been negligible.

First, there are no reports of fuel oil in the ammonium nitrate loaded at Texas City. It was prepared farming fertilizer, in paper sacks, and mixed with clay, rosin, petrolatum and paraffin wax to avoid aggregation. While rosin, petrolatum and paraffin wax all are combustible, they nowhere approach the BTU content of fuel oil.

Secondly, the purity of ammonium nitrate was 38%, and it in fact exploded, because, it was contained in a sealed hold that was pressurized with steam.

The Grandcamp's Captain, also unfamiliar with chemistry, attempted to starve the fire of oxygen, not understanding that ammonium nitrate IS the oxidizer, and becomes explosive when confined under pressure, or is subject to a shock-wave in aggregated crystalline form. Thirdly, the High Flyer, docked alongside, then burned and exploded in the same manner from her load of ammonium nitrate confined in the hold.

Fourthly, Amonium (SIC) nitrite (NH4NO2) is not ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), and you should know the difference.

Lastly, when you post "look it up", you post a link with it.

And keep your kid away from that ammonium nitrite.

28 posted on 04/18/2013 7:24:15 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

So do you then believe that the explosion was caused by something else besides the fire-chemical mix?


29 posted on 04/18/2013 7:30:25 PM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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To: Navy Patriot

So what caused the explosion at Texas City? The steam pressure from the way it was stored?


30 posted on 04/18/2013 7:37:45 PM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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To: Rebelbase

31 posted on 04/18/2013 7:41:37 PM PDT by LA Woman3
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To: Responsibility2nd

This plant had tank cars of anhydrous ammonia. There was ammonium nitrate in the plant. This was a hazardous facility, a hazard just waiting to happen. I am a chemical engineer, with 40 plus years experience. Even when we could buy ammonium nitrate (before Oklahoma City), I would not keep more than 50 lbs on hand for fertilizer use.

Any plant like this should never be allowed in a residential area. This plant should have been located in the center of several hundred acres, far away from any business or residential area. The ptb who allowed this plant to be where it was located should be responsible for the destruction of life, limb, property from this explosion.

And unless the Federal Govt was compliant in the location of this factory, the whole cost of this should be born by the company and or local/state authorities. None from the Feds.


32 posted on 04/18/2013 7:58:00 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a Tea Party descendant...steeped in the Constitutional Republic given to us by the Founders.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

This plant had tank cars of anhydrous ammonia. There was ammonium nitrate in the plant. This was a hazardous facility, a hazard just waiting to happen. I am a chemical engineer, with 40 plus years experience. Even when we could buy ammonium nitrate (before Oklahoma City), I would not keep more than 50 lbs on hand for fertilizer use.

Any plant like this should never be allowed in a residential area. This plant should have been located in the center of several hundred acres, far away from any business or residential area. The ptb who allowed this plant to be where it was located should be responsible for the destruction of life, limb, property from this explosion.

And unless the Federal Govt was compliant in the location of this factory, the whole cost of this should be born by the company and or local/state authorities. None from the Feds.


33 posted on 04/18/2013 8:01:39 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a Tea Party descendant...steeped in the Constitutional Republic given to us by the Founders.)
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To: butterdezillion
So what caused the explosion at Texas City? The steam pressure from the way it was stored?

No, the explosion was inevitable because the ammonium nitrate was contained in a confined space in a strong vessel.

The ship effectively was a bomb casing.

The only possibility of avoiding the explosion would be to completely flood the hold with water at the first sign of fire, and then you may run out of time, as ships are not designed to be flooded rapidly for this purpose.

All that was necessary was for the temperature to be raised on the confined ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate does not even need to be confined to explode, if it is in aggregated form. That occurs when it is reasonably pure and moisture has dissolved and reformed it from granules to larger crystals that cannot be separated.

On September 21, 1921, at the BASF fertilizer plant in Oppau Germany, an attempt at disaggregation of a fertilizer mix with industrial explosives caused the death of 561 people and left more than 2000 injured.

The dummies shocked unconfined, crystalline ammonium nitrate that was too pure.

34 posted on 04/18/2013 8:15:11 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Navy Patriot

Is that how it was in West also? Any temperature rise would have caused an explosion?


35 posted on 04/18/2013 8:30:19 PM PDT by butterdezillion (,)
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To: butterdezillion
Is that how it was in West also? Any temperature rise would have caused an explosion?

I don't know, I am not familiar with the physical facts of the West, Texas plant, and I have not addressed that facility in any of my posts.

I'm gonna have to wait for the facts to become available.

36 posted on 04/18/2013 8:38:49 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: butterdezillion

The details are still sketch as to what chemicals they had on site and what was on fire.

The site supposedly only had anhydrous ammonia. It is very hard to make that blow up. Two options are:
BLEVE - Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion
Vapor Cloud Explosion - A large vapor release of ammonia igniting due to the fire.

However, there don’t seem to be many reports of Ammonia exposures.

This source, below, says that there was a ammonium nitrite rail car that was the source of the explosion.

“Authorities suspect the blast was set off by a rail car holding a large quantity of ammonia nitrate that somehow caught fire or blew up. The Obama offical told The Post that investigators are now trying to determine whether the ammonia nitrate-carrying train was on the fertilizer plant’s property or on an adjacent site.

That question is critical, the official said, because the plant does not list ammonium nitrate as a chemical that it handles under the plant’s emergency plan on file with federal regulators — as it should be if the plant does handle such a chemical.

“There’s no ammonium nitrate reporting on their emergency plan,” the official said, noting that that plan was most recently reviewed by regulators in 2011.”

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/waco_plant_explosion_kills_criminal_HKroeaVUFAbVElwYRoRKHM


37 posted on 04/18/2013 9:01:30 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Navy Patriot

I don’t see any vessels on the site that look like they store anhydrous ammonia. I am used to seeing it stored in long horizontal white cylinders.

Here they say:::
“The West facility stores anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer produced from fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal, used to feed crops, prevent diseases and fight off pests.

West Fertilizer mixes dry fertilizer and stores anhydrous ammonia in large tanks. Agricultural anhydrous ammonia must be stored under high pressure in specially designed tanks and must be handled with care.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100654345


38 posted on 04/18/2013 9:06:47 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

Anhydrous ammonia breaks down at 400 degrees.


39 posted on 04/18/2013 10:43:11 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I’m a conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
Texas city explosion was caused when it was mixed with oil.

Your information is not correct.

40 posted on 04/19/2013 7:33:13 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Pikachu_Dad

Material Safety Data Sheet
http://www.hummelcroton.com/msds/msdsp/amno3_p.html
Ammonium Nitrate

Fire/Explosion Hazards: Contact with other material may cause fire. Emits toxic fumes under fire conditions. Container explosion may occur under fire conditions.

No other material is required to cause explosions.


41 posted on 04/19/2013 7:50:10 AM PDT by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Navy Patriot

Navy,

Sorry, not ignoring you, just got distracted by the bomber hunt.

You are correct... Nitrate not nitrite.

I need to rule out anhydrous ammonia completely I think.

The ammonia bullets ‘long skinny white cylinders’ appear to be on the south side of the facility. At 12,000 gallons each, they would be filled from trucks, not rail cars. The cylinders appear to be there still. There were no complaints of an ammonia cloud that I am aware of. Just a large fire followed by explosion. Very unlikely.


42 posted on 04/20/2013 9:20:08 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: GGpaX4DumpedTea

Cool. ChE with 30 years here. Part of that time I dealt with upgrading our ammonia bullets as a result of the Bhopal disaster. Much larger scale than what they have here.

I think their NH3 bullets are the long white tanks south of the big building. They are still there after the disaster.

Any word yet what was in the large building that was gone?


43 posted on 04/20/2013 9:29:56 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: butterdezillion

Not sure what chemicals they had on site or what they were making.

Something organic was burning to make a heck of a fire.


44 posted on 04/20/2013 9:39:48 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
I still don't have near enough information on the West, Texas plant to render an opinion on the probable cause of the explosion.

There was another FR thread this morning postulating that the plant was storing more ammonium nitrate than they were reporting because they did not have the required proper facilities and safety systems for the larger amount, being unwilling to pay the costs of those improvements.

However those are unconfirmed reports and may be inaccurate or false.

45 posted on 04/20/2013 9:41:30 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: EBH

Ammonia tank under fire will lift its pressure relief valve. The ammonia will then vent to atmosphere. Initially it is 100% ammonia. As it mixes with air the concentration of ammonia will go to 0. Thus every release at some point will be within the explosive mixture range. If indoors with an open flame in the building, there is usually an explosion. Ammonia was used extensively in refrigeration units in farming and there is a detailed list of all the explosion out there. Outside, the flame has to be in just the right location or it doesn’t happen. Outdoor release main hazard is the large toxic cloud that ‘walks’ along the ground. (See desert tortoise videos of large ammonia releases). Most fatalities occur within 500 yards? Due to toxic inhalation.

If liquid released, it auto chills down and burn hazards from the intense cold are a problem.

The ammonia tanks are about the size of a truck (12,000 gal), not the size of a rail car (33,000 gal). They appear to be the long white vessels south of the building and only minimally involved.


46 posted on 04/20/2013 10:01:03 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Responsibility2nd
Documents obtained by the Dallas Morning News indicate that regulators didn't issue a permit for the facility until after it was already in use, and that they were well aware of its proximity to homes and a school. Columnist Tod Robberson writes that the incident should be a wake-up call to cities to zone dangerous businesses more carefully.

Boy, that sounds like something out of Mexico.

47 posted on 04/20/2013 10:04:15 PM PDT by Tau Food (Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.)
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To: Navy Patriot

USA Today http://m.usatoday.com/article/news/2095817

They claimed 270 tons of Ammonium Nitrate. (What kind of ton - the 2000 lb/ton?) 540,000 lbs of Am Nitrate? That would have to be in the two large buildings.

Presuming the round buildings North side were grain storage.

If true, How big a volume is that?


48 posted on 04/20/2013 10:05:44 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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To: Pikachu_Dad
If true, How big a volume is that?

Ammonium nitrate is about 18.6 cubic feet per (American 2000#) ton.

That would be just over 5000 cubic feet, or a 10' X 10' building 50' high.

That's enough volume and weight to go bang.

49 posted on 04/20/2013 10:39:01 PM PDT by Navy Patriot (Join the Democrats, it's not Fascism when WE do it, and the Constitution and law mean what WE say.)
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To: Navy Patriot

From USA Today, we get the Adair Grain Inc 2012 Tier 2 Report - Via msnbcmedia.
Reporting period Jan 1 to Dec 31 2012. Printed April 18, 2013

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/NEWS/Adair%20Grain%20Inc%202012%20Tier%202%20Report.pdf


50 posted on 04/20/2013 11:00:30 PM PDT by Pikachu_Dad (Impeach Sen Quinn)
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