Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

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Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby funkyrake » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:11 pm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/18/the-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion-is-horrific-but-how-common-is-this/

It should come as no big surprise that something as seemingly benign as fertilizer could explode. The
very first military explosives in America came from Ag chemicals-fertilizers. Perchorate and other substances
are highly explosive. The Henderson Nevada perchorate fire surprised many. In this article, ammonium nitrate is examined as a possible source, but anhydrous ammonia was on site.

Great article.
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby icy » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:04 pm

Not a bit. What surprises/shocks me is how close the plant was to the town and all the damage caused by it.
There is one located a few towns away from me(less than an hour away and biggest one in Canada if I heard the news right), scary thought in light of things TBH.
Last edited by icy on Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby julymorning » Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:15 pm

funkyrake wrote:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/18/the-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion-is-horrific-but-how-common-is-this/

It should come as no big surprise that something as seemingly benign as fertilizer could explode. The
very first military explosives in America came from Ag chemicals-fertilizers. Perchorate and other substances
are highly explosive. The Henderson Nevada perchorate fire surprised many. In this article, ammonium nitrate is examined as a possible source, but anhydrous ammonia was on site.

Great article.



It's not, at least to people who read the news in Missouri.
Here's why:
"Anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating fumes, is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant (1). Anhydrous ammonia is also a key ingredient for illicit methamphetamine (meth) production in makeshift laboratories. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can be immediately dangerous to life or health (1,2). Anhydrous ammonia generally is not available for sale to the public; states require a license for purchase. Because of this, many illicit meth producers (i.e., "cookers") resort to stealing anhydrous ammonia. If released into the environment, anhydrous ammonia can cause acute injuries to emergency responders, the public, and the cookers themselves. In addition, when handled improperly, anhydrous ammonia can be explosive and deadly."

Sadly, Missouri is rife with meth labs. :-(
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby funkyrake » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:33 am

julymorning wrote:
funkyrake wrote:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/18/the-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion-is-horrific-but-how-common-is-this/

It should come as no big surprise that something as seemingly benign as fertilizer could explode. The
very first military explosives in America came from Ag chemicals-fertilizers. Perchorate and other substances
are highly explosive. The Henderson Nevada perchorate fire surprised many. In this article, ammonium nitrate is examined as a possible source, but anhydrous ammonia was on site.

Great article.



It's not, at least to people who read the news in Missouri.
Here's why:
"Anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas with a pungent, suffocating fumes, is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant (1). Anhydrous ammonia is also a key ingredient for illicit methamphetamine (meth) production in makeshift laboratories. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can be immediately dangerous to life or health (1,2). Anhydrous ammonia generally is not available for sale to the public; states require a license for purchase. Because of this, many illicit meth producers (i.e., "cookers") resort to stealing anhydrous ammonia. If released into the environment, anhydrous ammonia can cause acute injuries to emergency responders, the public, and the cookers themselves. In addition, when handled improperly, anhydrous ammonia can be explosive and deadly."

Sadly, Missouri is rife with meth labs. :-(


Super sorry about meth use. Meth is an environmental health disaster, as well as a hazard to clean water. A little town in California had to halt its municipal water use when it was discovered that meth producers dumped their waste from meth in the water supply.
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby funkyrake » Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:38 am

The company lied. They had been fined.

West Fertilizer Co. Told the EPA That Last Night's Explosion Could Never Happenhttp://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/04/18/west_texas_explosion_fertilizer_company_told_the_epa_that_there_was_no_fire.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co

Town probably needed the company for its tiny economy and may not have been willing to face the reality of danger posed by the rotten bastards.
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby Kes » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:14 am

Putting it in simple terms, no, it's not surprising.

Quite a few years back, the Provisional IRA tried to blow up Canary Wharf in London with about a ton of Ammonium Nitrate. This plant near Waco apparently had TWENTY THOUSAND TONS of it stockpiled.

I think people would be quite surprised at what materials are dangerous, and what aren't as dangerous as you might think. When I first started working on aircraft, a guy gave me an impromptu demo on aviation fuel, throwing lit matches into a bucket of the stuff. Sod all! Like throwing them into a bucket of water. Turn the stuff into a most though, and it burns like crazy.

A few years back, in the UK, there was an explosion in a custard factory. I defy anyone to try and start a fire with bloody custard powder, inert as you like, yet if you get it as at dust, at exactly the right amount of particles in relation to the air, like many apparently harmless things, it becomes explosive.
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby Elessar » Fri Apr 19, 2013 1:14 pm

If you're unfortunate enough to develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the first thing to do to improve your symptoms is to quit smoking. After that, there are various tablets and inhalers. After all of those, the last option is long-term oxygen therapy, where you spend 16 hours of every day breathing oxygen through a face mask. Is pretty grim. It's a pretty grim disease, arguably worse than lung cancer. Anyway, my point is this. To be considered for long-term oxygen therapy, you MUST give up smoking. It can't be a "yeah I promise I'll stop" thing, it is absolutely imperative that you give up.

Anyone care to hazard a guess why?
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby fairydandy » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:15 pm

Elessar wrote:If you're unfortunate enough to develop Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, the first thing to do to improve your symptoms is to quit smoking. After that, there are various tablets and inhalers. After all of those, the last option is long-term oxygen therapy, where you spend 16 hours of every day breathing oxygen through a face mask. Is pretty grim. It's a pretty grim disease, arguably worse than lung cancer. Anyway, my point is this. To be considered for long-term oxygen therapy, you MUST give up smoking. It can't be a "yeah I promise I'll stop" thing, it is absolutely imperative that you give up.

Anyone care to hazard a guess why?


Risk of explosion?

I'm so glad I quit smoking...but I might explode anyway. :P
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby Elessar » Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:01 pm

Yeah, exactly. Weird to think that the two elements that life is based on are both highly flammable by themselves.
 
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Re: Is the Texas Fertilizer Factory Explosion Surprising?

Postby Kes » Fri Apr 19, 2013 3:16 pm

Oxygen itself is NOT flammable.

What it DOES do, is support the combustion of just about any other "non-inert" medium within it.

If I'm wrong on this point, I've been taught duff gen for the best part of my career working with the stuff, in various forms from pressurised gaseous, and chemically generated through to the liquid variety (that stuff's fun to play with! People think it's dangerous, it may be like -150C in a pressurised pot, but you never go over 50 psi with it. The gaseous stuff is stored on aircraft at about 2000 psi, and you can seriously hurt yourself with that.)
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