What Did Regulators Know Before Texas Plant Exploded?

By Anna Driver and Joshua Schneyer | April 19, 2013

  • April 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm
    KentU says:
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    WFAA TV in Dallas interviewed a professor of chemistry from a local university. He stated that visual evidence shows the explosion was probably not chemical but, combustion. Regulations state that the anhydrous ammonia tanks are not to be more than 85% full so, there is room for expanson of the gas. Anhydrous ammonia is also stored at a temperature not to excess -28 degrees. A fire in a nearby building probably disabled the refrigeration mechanism allowing the temperature of the gas to increase a lot – plus the heat of the nearby fire. Anhydrous ammonia expands when heated and the steel tanks were able to contain this pressure only so long – eventually have a combustion explosion. Much like putting hundreds of pounds of air in your car tires before they finally explode. The combustion explosion also spread already existing fire when it happended.

    • April 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm
      Agent says:
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      Good comment. It is not wise to locate a fertilizer plant close to nearby residential areas or you may have a disaster like what happened. It is my understanding that Ammonium Nitrate was used by McVey in OK City. Looking at the pictures of the apartments of West, it looked similar to the Murrah building in OKC.

      • April 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm
        DS says:
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        What is going on, I agree with Agent twice in one week?!?!

      • April 20, 2013 at 2:00 am
        Mark says:
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        It wasn’t ammonium nitrate that exploded. That is not the same thing as Anhydrous Ammonia. And, this plant probably came before many of the residential structures seeing as it has been there since the early 60s.



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