The wonders of fundamentalism + Rand Paul libertarianism in one simple image

West-texas-map

 

The middle school suffered severe fire damage. An apartment building adjacent the plant was completely leveled, killing about 15. See that tan circle off the northwest corner of the plant? That was a playground. A nursing home was within the blast radius and was completely leveled. You can see many more pictures of the damage here. Here’s our newest Senator, Ted Cruz, hard at work on the badly needed aid:

Raw Story — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says that he is prepared to make “all available resources” available from the federal government to assist in the recovery after an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas — but the senator voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy earlier because he said it was “pork.”

There is a reason zoning laws exist, there’s a reason we have government aid. But Texas being Texas, apparently the “freedom” to set up shop next to a bomb trumps everything else—including the lives and properties of far too many in West. Because that free market magic has worked wonders all over the US.

Audio/video from West, Texas explosion

This is all unfolding about an hour and half north of me. There are at least three people I know who we haven’t heard from who live near the area. I have no reason to think they’re among the 5 to 15 reported dead or the 200 or more injured, but it’s definitely close to home. Meanwhile, in a report that should be shocking to no one, the plant reports on itself as being completely safe just a few years ago:

Dallas Morning News — The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show. West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.

But the report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.

It’s certainly possible that someone at the plant did this on purpose, it’s probably more likely there was a confluence of unlikely events that conspired to cause a freak accident. But it’s just as possible a company was squeezing every last dime of profit they could, fuck the employees and safety, and took advantage of underfunded government oversight orgs and a state governor who thinks the EPA and related groups are the economic spawn of Satan to skirt regs and cut corners.

Regardless of which one of those scenarios,  if any, turns out to be closest to the mark, I assure you, taxpayers will be stuck cleaning this mess up and the local middle class working community will continue to bear the brunt of the pain. Socialism and government is only evil when it helps the middle class or working poor. When grabbing government dough, when fat subsidies are being handed out, and most especially when pawning off the losses caused by anything from bad luck to gross negligence, socialism is the tea-party CEO’s best friend.

The main explosion occurs at about 30 seconds. The guy who got this video was interviewed on the news and added both he and the little girl you’ll hear are doing fine.

And if that sounds too bitter or cynical at this early juncture, sorry, but it’s the truth. Over the last decade our nation has become the most crooked, corrupt, ugly joyless place to work and live I’ve ever visited, much less lived in. And it’s almost entirely the doing of corporate money buying politicians and picking the pocket of everyone they can get their filthy mitts into.

Update: it’s not clear what happened in West, obviously, even the exact substances are not agreed upon right now. But here’s a video showing you a scaled down version of the basic physics that may have been at work. A heat source ignites a cloud of explosives, the basis of a Fuel Air Bomb or thermobaric device when weaponized.

Huge explosion rocks Texas town

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More terrible news for an already grieving nation. A huge explosion at a fertilizer plant has laid waste or caused structual damage to everything in some 20 to 30 square miles in the town of West, Texas (West is the town’s name, it does not refer directly to the region of Western Texas) located 19 miles north of Waco, between Dallas and Austin, on Interstate 35. The air is rife with noxious fumes, casualties are estimated to be in the hundreds, the devastation is so great no one can really say yet. [Read more...]