Home / General / The West, Texas Disaster

The West, Texas Disaster


As you may have heard, a fertilizer plant has exploded in the town of West, Texas. This town, the Czech cultural capital of Texas and home of a mighty fine kolache at the Czech Stop, not to mention outfielder and stolen base maven Scott Podsednik, is a town well-known throughout the state. It’s also a place where, as of the most recent reports, 60-70 people have died, a nursing home has caved in, and every house within a 4 block radius was destroyed. Hopefully, it is not this bad. Yes, that’s right, a fertilizer plant was placed in a neighborhood. Or a neighborhood grew up around a fertilizer plant. In any case, there are already lessons we can draw from this developing story. First, non-union states often have terrible working conditions that can lead to horrible accidents. They might rarely be this bad, but they kill. Second, a state with notoriously bad zoning and where capitalists are effectively allowed to do whatever they want is going to be a state where terrible things happen.

I’m sure I’ll have more on what seems to be the worst workplace disaster in the United States in many years.

…I don’t actually recommend watching this, but this is footage of the explosion taken by some guy. Not embedding and I warn you. But this is what happened.

And Michelle Malkin sends her flying monkeys at me for talking about this event in terms of unions. Classy!

…In February, a school in West evacuated because of a fire at this fertilizer plant. PDF.

…As much as I want to keep following this story, at some point I need to sleep. Like now. As we speak, there are at least 2 confirmed dead and the town’s emergency management system director is saying 60-70 possible dead. By the time I wake up, I hope this was just a nightmare and didn’t occur.

…[SL] Welcome flying monkeys! I know the points here are hard to understand, but here’s a primer.

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  • Did anyone listen to the guy filming it? He seems to know it’s dangerous, but films anyway. WTF?!?!? You don’t want to be any where near a fertilizer plant when it catches fire. I guess Texas didn’t learn from the Galveston fire/explosion of the late 1940’s. Such a shame.

    • GFW

      To be fair, it looks like he’s a half mile away so he probably thought it was a safe distance but then … shit, I damn near jumped out of my chair when that went. On the other hand, you don’t take your small child to view something like this, period.

      • splashy

        That’s not far enough. You need to be able to cover the problem with your thumb held out at arm’s length. If you can see it, you are too close.

        • Jason

          I hope the cars occupants are ok. I had not heard that rule.

          • Joey Maloney

            Stupid, stupid, stupid. I bet his 4Xgreat-grandfather was one of the idiots who took a nice picnic lunch out to watch the fun at Gettsburg.

            • cpinva

              i think you mean the first battle of manassas/bull run. by july, 1863, no one was picnicing near battlefields.

              • Joey Maloney

                Shows the extent of my knowledge of the military history of the period, relying on the memory of a picture in a book I read in 3rd grade.

                Still, this guy? Driving out to gawp at A FERTILIZER PLANT ON FIRE??Wouldn’t surprise me at all if his ancestors had been picnicking at Hue, Chosin reservoir, Nagasaki, the Somme, and on back like an extra-stupid version of Lieutenant Dan’s lineage.

                • wengler

                  If you grew up in the middle of nowhere, you would understand.

                • Bob

                  If his relatives were that stupid, they would have had no descendants!…They would have won the Darwin Award if it had been around at the time.

                  Seriously, I heard nothing suggesting that he took a special trip to video the fire. My guess is that he was just driving by on his way to or from somewhere, and felt lucky to be able to take the video.

      • Rarely Posts

        I was debating watching the video, and this discussion has convinced me that I shouldn’t. Thanks. I wish similar warnings had accompanied the Boston Marathon videos.

      • Kurzleg

        Google maps confirms the half mile estimate.

        • Kurzleg

          Or maybe not. It’s 800m from the highway to the plant, but I don’t think this guy’s on the side of the highway.

          • Judging strictly by eye, he’s at least a quarter mile and more likely closer to half a mile.

    • rea

      the Galveston fire/explosion of the late 1940′s

      Texas City, actually, although that’s not too far from Galveston. The worst industrial accident in the history of the country–maybe 600 dead–no one knows for sure.

      Galveston, of course, had the worst natural disaster in the history of the coutnry, too.

    • Lego My Eggo

      Let’s not get distracted. The REALLY stupid was allowing residences to be built that close to the plant (or vice versa, as the case may be).

      It’s not like west Texas has no big open empty spaces left.

      • It’s actually not in west Texas. It’s in central Texas. The name of the town is West.

    • Ken430TX

      It is not and never was a fertilizer PLANT. It is a retail facility for farmers to buy bulk bags of fertilizer. They had about 54,000 lbs. on site, or about one and a half truckloads.
      If you are going to bitch about something at least get a few of the facts correct.

  • I don’t actually recommend watching this

    I should have heeded your advice. This, the Boston Marathon, the Senate vote today – can we just preemptively end this week already?

    • It’s possible this is not the greatest week in American history.

      • Murc

        Dude, warn people that the REASON you don’t recommend watching it is because of the plaintive yelling of a young girl for her incredibly dumbassed father to get them out of there. You can’t just say “don’t watch this” and then not say why. People are gonna watch anyway if they don’t know what, precisely, the trigger is.

        • newsouthzach

          +1. Now I need a drink.

        • Cody

          Maybe I’m heartless here, but it didn’t bother me at all. Gore bothers me way more, or actually seeing people in pain.

          Of course, it helps if you’re aware ahead of time the girl is fine. Guess if I was considering that she might have just been blown to pieces I would be scarred a bit.

        • Jon H

          It’s actually kind of uplifting, that the child has more common sense than her idiot father.

          I’m glad they weren’t hurt. (They were shown being interviewed on the news this morning, none the worse for wear.)

          • I knew they were all right but I still didn’t watch. If that girl’s mother is still alive I’m surprised dad isn’t in the hospital with enraged parent inflicted injuries.

            • ChrisTS

              Yes. I have always told my husband that if he takes one of our kids somewhere and the kid is injured, he should not return.

          • CLB

            Yah I was in the lobby watching them film that.

    • Fighting Words

      It also appears that the U.S. is sending troops to the Jordan/Syrian border. I mean, nothing bad could possibly come out of that.


      • joe from Lowell

        There’s a massive refugee crisis, a chemical weapons arsenal that somebody is going to end up with, a hug humanitarian catastrophe, and what sets off your concern alarm is that troops are being positioned to deal with it?

        Good point, dude: what if something bad was to happen in Syria?!?

        • Yes well this sort of thing has always turned out so well in the past.

      • Brandon C.

        I’m pretty sure from what I’ve read that they are replacing the troops that are already there. Better they send 200 advisers to help Jordan than actual troops anyway. Thats really the way that we should do things.

    • My feelings exactly.

    • newsouthzach

      I should have heeded your advice.

      Same here. Not because of the explosion itself, but the fear in that kid’s voice absolutely kills me.

    • They actually ran the same video on CBS news this morning during breakfast. No warning whatsoever… I’m glad I’d already seen it and knew what to expect.

      • LittlePig

        I heard it on the radio. It didn’t bother me; rather I thought “She’s got good sense. She obvious got it from her mother.”

  • hedonism

    No doubt they got a good deal on those homes through the magic of Coasian bargaining. *Cough*

  • Wow. Just… wow.

  • NBarnes

    Puts a tidy new spin on the old line about Romney as a ‘job cremator’.

    My defense of my callousness is that I nearly threw up when I heard the kid’s voice in that video clip.

    • GFW

      I’m impressed by the kid. Stressed, but not hysterical, communicates fact that hearing is shot and repeatedly insists on the most intelligent course of action. Kid is apparently smarter than father.

    • holycrap

      Can we assume the guy would have had better things to do than upload a video if he had a maimed kid on his hands? Fer chrissake she’s yelling she *lost her hearing*. Should we suppose she’s okay? (Sure hope so.)

      • Cody

        This was replaying on the radio this morning. They always prefaced it with everyone was fine. The girl’s hearing came back shortly after, and she wasn’t admitted or anything.

  • CAD

    Source for that casualty estimate?

  • Murc

    I’d like to be the first person to compare this to the PEPCON explosion back in ’88. Although this is actually far worse and expected to get MORE worse (worser?) before it gets better.

  • Vance Maverick

    If we’re not allowed to reason from an atrocity like the shooting in which Gabby Giffords was nearly killed to gun policy (because that would be emotional bullying), then obviously we can’t reason from a Triangle Shirtwaist-level atrocity like this to industrial policy. Be consistent!

    • Why am I emotionally bullying corporations who don’t want to invest in workplace safety!!!

      • Vance Maverick

        Have you at long last no decency!?

        It’s bitterly amusing that for the flying monkeys, the idea that zoning or unions might have kept things safer is evidently absurd on its face. Well, maybe not amusing, but bitter.

        • More like it makes me want to weep.

          • Vance Maverick

            That evacuation letter is something. Through the officialese, it’s plain the superintendent was pissed, and didn’t feel he had real recourse.

            • Have to thank a Twitter follower for sending that along to me.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              sent from the office on ‘north reagan’ street

              such a corrosive legacy

              • Reality is so much better at satire than we are, sometimes.

    • Rarely Posts

      Conservatives seem to be winning the argument that criticism of conservative ideas for their consequences is fundamentally offensive and unfair. I’d like to think it was limited to right-wing internet and radio, but it seems to have taken off generally.

      During the DOMA arguments in the Supreme Court, everyone (including the Plaintiff’s attorney!) seemed hesitant to suggest that DOMA was motivated by animus. It’s just too offensive and rude to suggest that prejudice motivated a deeply prejudicial law! And, now we see that it’s offensive to suggest that widely available guns might lead to gun violence or that lack of zoning might increase the risks that industrial accidents will harm neighboring residents.

      • Joshua

        Yea, the mindset that conservatism cannot fail it can only be failed has taken a firm hold in many areas of discourse.

      • Brandon

        I thought it was explicitly brought up that DOMA was motivated by animus and Clement sort of bumbled through a response along the lines of “it says that?…well yes it says that but…”

    • Mondfledermaus

      Fortunately, the Job-Creators will just move their to some other place where they do not have job-killing regulations and leave the envious libruls sulking.

  • Jim Dandy

    At it again r u Erik Dufus?

    • Derp. Also herp.

      • STH

        The Flying Monkeys are quite the bunch of wordsmiths, aren’t they?

        • They are really the finest minds in this country.

          • Joey Maloney

            When will you be issuing your call for Michelle Malkin’s pompons on a stick?

        • DrDick

          They read Malkin, so you cannot expect more than a 3rd grade cognitive competence.

    • Murc

      That’s the best you can do? I mean, Erik’s last name presents so many other possibilities.

      Just off the top of my head: “Erik Loomisrepresents” or “Erik Loomistakes”. With slightly more effort: “Erik Loomarxist.”

      You get those for free. You’re welcome.

      • Well done.

        • Loomass

          There is low hanging fruit here.

          A few years back In Texas in Bryan there was a fire (and luckily no explosion) but where 80,000 people were asked to evacuate because of fumes. This is just really scary, and there is no reason whatsoever that there should be anything near a fertilizer plant. Terrible.

        • Murc

          And I didn’t even dip my toe in the pool of “adding gratuitous extra K’s to the end of your first name.”

          • Warren Terra

            Or “Erich Von Lastname” is always an easily, intellectually bankrupt way to corrupt an Eric’s name.

            Though fans of Michelle “Internment Is Dandy” Malkin might think it’s a complement.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              How about “Erik Loomiski”? Surely Russification still works, too!

              • Warren Terra

                Da, Tovarisch!

              • As Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods* would say, in Alaska they can see Putin Loomising into their airspace.

                *Thanks, Charlie.

              • The ski ending is more Polish than Russian. The ov ending as in Loomisov would be more typically Russian.

                • Anna in PDX

                  I have to say I always read these comments looking for your out of left field correction on something that no one else would have noticed, J. Otto. This is actually not sarcasm, I think it makes LGM a very interesting place and I always learn something that might be useful later on.

              • the original spencer

                “I’m a Loomiski, you’re a Loomiski, what of it?”

                • Uncle Ebeneezer

                  (singing) “…wouldn’t you like to be a Loomski too?”

    • Colin Day

      Hmm. . . Pancakes

  • R. Porrofatto

    Michelle Malkin sends her flying monkeys at me for talking about this event in terms of unions.

    Malkin’s right. You should have been talking about it in terms of Mooslims — the universal wingnut currency even stupider than Bitcoin.

    And what’s the least bit questionable about the zoning? Looky here; the nursing home is at least 350 whole feet from the big fertilizer tanks, and the Middle School is a good 600, 700 feet away. Safety first!

    • Without those commies and their zoning, we could have moved the nursing home to 50 feet away!

      • Have you noticed that Eric’s last name can be re-arranged to spell “Mooslim”? (Kinda. Mostly. Close enough for Twitchy)

        Is it irresponsible to speculate? IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE NOT TO SPECULATE!!

        • Grab your speculum.

    • Mondfledermaus

      The geezers at the nursing home and the kids at the middle school were takers, definitively 47-percenters….

  • How the fuck do you not see a fertilizer factory next to a nursing home and not think- what was going on at the zoning board?

    • You presume there WAS a zoning board.

      Second answer: Blank checks being handed out. Molly Ivins has reported it in Texas before.

      • Nah I know parts of Texas don’t have zoning boards, Houston, I believe is without one. I’m just trying to imagine how Ms Malkin, who presumably lives somewhere that does, wouldn’t think that. I guess promoting bad ideas from the safety of blue states is par for the course for people like her.

        • FMguru

          Yeah, Texas is kind of amazing in its total lack of zoning in a lot of place, particularly (as you note) Houston. A church next to a porn store next to a catalytic cracking tower next to an elementary school, just driving around the city is enough to cause any SimCity player a nervous breakdown.

          • My state (California) overdid it with the zoning- used it for all sorts of evil, racist ends and created unwalkable suburbs so I’m sympathetic to the idea of looser standards. But, as usual, Texas is taking things too far.

            • Yeah, zoning can be a terrible thing for the reasons you mention. But a world without zoning is not a good world.

              • No, not good at all. Reading a postwar history of Oakland, so evil zoning laws are on mind.

                • Would this be Self’s American Babylon?

                • That’s the one. Really enjoying the mix of labor history + race relations. I don’t have much of a background in either, but I’m trying to get what I can out of it.

                • It’s a truly great book. Not the easiest book to read. But one with enormous explanatory power for postwar America.

                • Cool, glad you endorse it- I’ll keep on plodding my way through it

              • Pseudonym

                Oh, so you’re pro-segregation now? Separated by a substantial buffer zone but equal is good enough for you?

      • Barry Freed

        Molly Ivins

        I hadn’t thought of her in years. We sure could use her right now.

        • John Casey

          There’s not been a day since she passed that we couldn’t have used her commentary on that day.

  • Pingback: Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis blames West, Texas, explosion on lack of unions and bad zoning()

    • Hilarious.

      • I think I’ll pass on actually reading those trackbacks.

      • rea

        You know who else blames bad zoning? Why, yes, that hotbed of radical leftism, the Dallas Morning News.

        • Lego My Eggo

          How dare they politicize this tragedy…

      • At least they seem to have read it correctly, this time.

    • This site is particularly sad. No comments on this one, no comments on the other 3 recent posts. For a ‘news radio’ thing, it’s not exactly picking up the traffic.

  • Pingback: Explosion in Texas - INGunOwners()

  • trollhattan

    Company I worked for at the time lost nearly a dozen employees in the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion. They were in a contractor’s trailer on site, doing work unrelated to the unit that exploded. Here’s hoping the outcome at the fertilizer plant isn’t as bad as the BP disaster. My heart goes out to those folks.


  • BigHank53

    Fuck, I drove through West last Friday.

    • I hope you stopped at the Czech Stop.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        I did the last time I was driving that way. It was the weekend after Thanksgiving last year. I’m embarassed to say I had no idea that place was there; we just needed gas. But we ended up also getting great Czech baked goods (including, of course, kolaches). Vaux le voyage, as the cheese-eating surrender monkeys say.

      • BigHank53

        I’m afraid I didn’t; I had a bastard of a schedule.

      • Karen

        It makes me very happy, Dr. Loomis, that you know of and are telling the world about the delight that is the Czech Stop. Peach kolaches make driving on I 35 almost not horrible.

      • Adam

        I do not understand the love for Czech Stop. The only thing it has going for it is convenience (on the interstate, open 24/7). It not even the best in West. For that you need to go into town, over the railroad tracks, to Village Bakery.


        • Karen

          That too. Also Nemecek’s meats, for Hot Chubbies (very spicy hot dogs) and ring bologna.

  • Jewish Steel

    Thanks for being the West’s industrial hellscape, China Texas!

    • Really, there’s a lot of competition for that title.

  • Pooh

    I mean it’s almost literally a bomb factory, why would anyone possibly think it’s a good idea to put stuff near there, aside from the fact that I can’t imagine that fertilizer and it’s byproducts are good chemicals to live near.

    • Karen

      They make the stuff used by Timothy McVeigh and in the first World Trade Center attacks. There is no almost;” it is a bomb factory.

      • Pooh


      • povertyrich

        The plants which supplied nitrogen for bombs during WWII turned to producing nitrogen fertilizers after the war. So yeah, bomb factory.

  • heckblazer

    What this actually reminds me of is the 2001 AZF factory explosion in France. That also was a fertilizer factory located near a town. According to Wikipedia 29 people died, 2,500 were seriously wounded and 8,000 had had light injuries. Not only was the factory destroyed, the explosion left a crater 65-100 feet deep and 650 feet in diameter.

    I figure this is worth mentioning as I assume the regulatory environment is stricter in France than it is in Texas.

    • I’d be interested in a real comparison. In that case, the explosion seems to have happened during working hours, without a fire to prompt evacuation, which accounts for most of the deaths.

      Haven’t seen anything yet on the capacity of the West plant, to compare blast strengths, but it doesn’t seem anywhere near as powerful from the description of that crater.

      • heckblazer

        I do predict fewer serious casualties in West, if only because the town’s population is lower than the total number of AZF explosion serious casualties.

  • clo

    zoning? vote today? boston? let me guess… ubehind further gun control, or belueve zoning would have prevented this explosion? grow some fucking balls… get off your government helos or prevents disasters dumbass beliefs. grab a hose or a blown off

    • heckblazer

      Hmmm. Avant garde blank verse in the style of e e cummings.

      • Anonymous

        more don marquis methinks except with punctuation cockroaches normally decline to attempt noting marquis claimed to be a republican who serially quit the gop every time they nominated yet another fascist which was a lot then rejoined the party to help oust whichever democratic president pd him o whereupon he quit them again upon their nominating yet another fascist


    • Joey Maloney

      That’s perfect trochaic pentameter. Well done.

    • Vance Maverick

      I think I can pull a coherent bit from that haze. No, it’s not that zoning would have prevented the explosion. It’s that it could have kept the factory apart from the town.

    • Anonymous

      I like the references to Bellevue and the god / titan Helios, myself. And the notion that I might want to “blow off” his hose is mighty tempting.

      • Alan in SF

        As is the notion of growing balls.

    • herr doktor bimler

      get off your government helos or prevents disasters dumbass beliefs

      I understand that the region’s elected representatives share the belief that government cannot helo disasters — or indeed, help them — and therefore voted against disaster relief for the New Jersey area in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

      It remains to be seen if events have changed their minds.

      • It remains to be seen if events have changed their minds.

        That gave me a chuckle.

      • Colin Day

        Minds? Objection, assuming facts not in evidence.

    • brad

      Much as it has some loathsome historical precedents, I half wish that anyone who wants to vote in favor of “English only” initiatives be required to be able demonstrate the ability to read the ballot.

      • brad

        And of course.
        I blame Obama for my insomniac bad editing/almost typo.

      • Yeah, it definitely falls into the “attractive idea until you stop to consider implementation in the real world” category.

        How about giving extra votes to people with advanced degrees: one vote for HS grads, two for AA or AS degrees, four for BA/BS, six for MA, ten for Ph.D.

        Or, my current theory: give an extra vote to marriages that last longer than 18 years, as long as the partners can agree on a vote, and with same-sex couples grandfathered in until 18 years have passed.

        • the original spencer

          Would these vote totals be cumulative? Because that would give me 21 votes (I never actually got an AA degree).

          • No, if it were cumulative, I’d probably leave it at 1 or 2 votes per degree level:

            JD degrees may result in loss of voting privileges.

    • BigHank53

      Well, I suppose it’s a step up from all caps…but he’s still got a shift key, as demonstrated by the question marks. Puzzling.

    • Barry Freed

      I’ll get off my [black, UN] government helo after I pry your shooting iron from your cold dead hands.

      Also, “grab a hose or a blown off” is the new pancake breakfast.

      • mds

        Yeah, I was in a hurry this morning, so I had to grab a powdered blown off at the train station. They were out of hoses.

    • Maybe if you play it backwards?

    • Origami Isopod

      Word salad with drool dressing.

  • NBarnes

    get off your government helos or prevents disasters dumbass beliefs

    What does this mean?

    • herr doktor bimler

      Something something government helots.

      • How are they at dealing with lobster-clawed Persians?

    • Malaclypse

      Means VDH is drunk-posting, again.

      • Timb

        Ah, history jokes. They never get old

        • No, they start old.

          And it can’t be VDH: no gratuitous Thucydides.

    • djw

      I tried reading it as “halos” and “hellos” first, but neither made sense. I think the idea was “helps”. If you make that alteration, read “off” as “over” and put quotes before government and after disasters it’s almost literate enough to convey a thought.

      • the original spencer

        All that effort just to parse such a pointless thought.

        • Aaron B.

          Oh, go grab a hose or a blown off.

  • James N

    Not sure how you can say that bad things happen because the place isn’t unionized. If that is the case, how did the explosion occur at the Bayer CropScience plant in W. Virginia in 2008?

    Unless you can point at a perfect track record of accident free environments for unionized industries, then you can’t say it was because of the lack of a union that it happened. Being unionized didn’t stop the two workers from dying at the plant in W. Virginia.

    The truth is, people make mistakes. People are no more or no less likely to make a mistake or do something wrong when they belong to a union than if they do not.

    When all is said and done, we may never learn what caused the fire which led to the explosion. However, accidents happen for very few reasons. Distraction. Inexperience. Equipment failure.

    The only accident I have ever caused while driving occurred because I was paying attention to the radio. Young drivers get in many more accidents than experienced drivers. Not nearly as often, a tire will blow or some other failure occur and a crash follows. Police almost everywhere are unionized. Yet, in pretty much every town I have lived in there is a lot somewhere with all the police department’s smashed up cars. The union didn’t protect those officers from being involved in an accident.

    What prevents accidents is attention to the job at hand, experience and using adequate equipment. Regardless of how many rules and regulations we have over us, it still comes down to us as individuals doing our job correctly in order to avoid injury or the endangerment of others.

    • ironic irony


    • Vance Maverick

      Regardless of how many rules and regulations we have over us, it still comes down to us as individuals doing our job correctly in order to avoid injury or the endangerment of others.

      Are there any factors, any at all, that can influence outcomes, other than individual virtue? Can institutions ever matter?

      • Anonymous

        Of course not. That’s why laws (don’t) exist and science is a bunch of pansy-ass bunkum.

      • One’s mix of humours – particularly the relative amounts of black and green bile – are far more important than virtue.

        • Linnaeus

          Yellow bile, actually.

          • Only if you remove the blue bile.

        • high-pH Chemist

          I thought we weren’t supposed to mix the two dirts.

          • Alan in SF

            You guys are so 18th century. Don’t you know it’s all about skull bumps?

    • cpinva

      “Not sure how you can say that bad things happen because the place isn’t unionized.”

      simply put, unionized factories tend to be safer work environments than non-unionized ones, because the workers have a greater say in how the factory is operated. they can refuse to work in unsafe conditions, without fear of being summarily fired. it becomes economically viable to management, to maintain the factory and equipment up to safe standards, thereby reducing the potential for accidents and, if an accident does occur, reducing the potential destruction resulting from it.

      • delurking


    • McAllen

      Unless you can point at a perfect track record of accident free environments for unionized industries, then you can’t say it was because of the lack of a union that it happened.

      That’s right, it’s not enough to show that unionized workplaces are far safer than non-unionized ones; if any unionized workplace whatsoever has an accident, that means you can’t argue any connection between unions and safety!

      • BigHank53

        What, didn’t you read Ted Crux’s argument against background checks? He claimed they’d never work without a national firearms registry (an assertion pulled from LaPierre’s ass, no doubt) so passing the background checks would be an implicit vote for such a registry, which as all good citizens know is only a half-step from the confiscation of American manhood itself everyone’s favorite toys.

      • Yeah, that’s first-rate goalpost shifting right there.

        Workplace safety is not a mystery. It’s about information collection, risk reduction, and generally putting priorities straight. None of which are particularly virtues of corporations.

    • Unsympathetic

      Objectively wrong.

      People do make mistakes – and owners force those employees to make those mistakes by simply refusing to provide the appropriate tools to perform the job safely.

      Unless you can show that 100% of non-union plants have modern and complete safety equipment, you have zero backing to assert that accidents are always caused by people.

      Your driving record is irrelevant. It’s amusing that your position requires the assumption that “modern safety equipment” is available. It’s not.

      Rather, it’s always owners trying to save a buck that causes disasters like today. Every single time.

      Especially in Texas.

      • Pooh

        “Every single time” is falling into the same false dichotomy of the OPs Smokey the Bear position of only you (and FREEDOM) can prevent workplace accidents. Shit happens. It just happens less often, with less bad consequences, on the aggregate if there is a trained, secure and adequately rested and staffed workforce. As Ahist says up thread, this isn’t hard, the plant owners have just been successful in avoiding the costs of prevention at the expense of increased worker and public risk.

      • Linnaeus

        It’s worth linking again the article about OSHA and chemical hazards in this cushion factory in North Carolina. One thing that is clear in the article is that the company is not providing the proper equipment to workers to mitigate harm from the chemical fumes they’re exposed to

    • Since I work in an industry with more than a bit of danger associated with it (air freight) I can speak to this.

      Without my union, the company would be able to “push” my schedule that much harder than they already do. They could make me work longer hours and make my trips more fatiguing by making me shift from nights -> days -> nights in the same week.

      The cumulative effect of this would be to make me more fatigued, and believe me I’m already fatigued on any given night.

      When I’m more fatigued I’m less able to exercise the good judgement that would prevent an incident. You can find any number of studies showing what common sense will already tell you – when you’re tired you’re not as sharp as you would normally be.

      • Yes, but the well-padded poo flingers would say that the fatigue and increased potential for error that goes with are examples of human failings. If your employer makes you work unreasonable hours you should simply seek employment elsewhere.

        Yeah, and they wonder why people assume they’re teen boys who have read too much Rand & Heinlein.

        • We didn’t always have a union. Keep in mind that the pilot group trends conservative for the most part just by sheer demographics.

          Mostly male, middle aged, upper middle class and largely ex military officer.

          The company earned themselves a union through some really bad management practices. Once the pilot group figured out that management could do anything they wanted to them and they had no protection – they voted in the union.

        • “have read too much Rand & Heinlein”

          This is where we reference John Roberts and orcs, isn’t it?

          • LittlePig

            Leave Robert A. allllooonnnneeee!

            “Guns make a polite society” comes into being AFTER all the impolite folks have been shot. What he described is actually more like “Guns expedite the socialization process because the unsocialized kill each other off quite expeditiously”.

            It’s silly, sure, but it’s not the complete and utter narcissism of Rand.

    • Cody

      Distraction. Inexperience. Equipment failure.

      So accidents happen by three things Unions counteract?


    • DrDick

      Not sure how you can say that bad things happen because the place isn’t unionized.

      There are these things called statistics. Perhaps you have heard of them? They show that there are significantly fewer accidents at union workplaces than at nonunion workplaces (for reasons others have pointed out). The record at union businesses is not perfect, in part because we do not live in a perfect world, but mostly because unions do not have total control over workplace safety.

    • povertyrich

      I crashed a car once, therefore unions suck.

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        Saftey goggles don’t work 100% of the time, therefore…

    • When all is said and done, we may never learn what caused the fire which led to the explosion. .

      This is very unlikely. Accident, malice, unsafe environment, poor safety practices; investigators will be able to discern the likely cause, regardless of the destruction.

      The sad part is that being Texas, what is unlikely is any structural change resulting from the discovery of the cause. If, for example, it was lack of inspections that allowed unsafe conditions? Does anyone think Prick Erry will step up inspections?

      • Secession is the only possible answer.

        • Colin Day

          If the plant had been in another country, those people wouldn’t have been hurt.

          • They wouldn’t have been ‘Merkins. And isn’t that the most important thing?

    • R. Porrofatto

      Regardless of how many rules and regulations we have over us, it still comes down to us as individuals doing our job correctly in order to avoid injury or the endangerment of others.

      And in the non-libertarian Real World, companies not lying their asses off:

      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.

      • Vance Maverick

        If the citizens of West didn’t like that, they should have moved to another neighborhood where there were no liars secretly stockpiling explosives. It’s a free country!

      • DrDick

        More reasons why we do not need unions because businesses always operate at the highest ethical standards and would never endanger anyone!

      • Linnaeus

        I work in environmental consulting and I can tell you (anecdotally, to be fair) that even generally honest companies are not always the most forthcoming when it comes to dealing with issues like these. Not a startling revelation in general, I know, but it wasn’t until I actually started doing this work that I really got to see the behavior up close.

        • Bufflars

          I also work in environmental consulting. I’ve seen many examples (also anecdotally) where forms or reports are not completely or sufficiently filled out due to inexperienced or improperly trained staff. Many businesses just don’t have full time and well trained evironmental (or safety) personnel. This is, of course, still the company’s fault, but I feel that a lot of incorrect or false reporting is not necessarily done out of malice on anyone’s part.

          • Linnaeus

            Oh, sure. I don’t think any of the clients I’ve worked with so far are malicious. We provide a lot of environmental compliance services for clients who cannot (or prefer not to) employ someone in-house to do. Some clients “get it” (the value of compliance) better than others, but so far they all seem pretty sincere.

      • Karen

        The worst part about that? It’s entirely possible that the question on the form was worded in a way that made their answers accurate. Without reading the rules I can’t say one way or another, but I have reviewed plenty of forms with horribly misleading but strictly accurate information. So, the demonstrates the need for both good regulations and vigilance to see that the procedures implementing the regs are thorough.

  • ironic irony

    Hole. Lee. Shit.

    My thoughts are with these folks.

  • Pingback: Texas fertilizer fire lethal disaster | Dear Kitty. Some blog()

  • cpinva

    honestly, the more i see and hear, about texas, it’s politicians and “movers & shakers”, the more i wonder why anyone, with a minimum of at least two functioning synapses, and a choice, would ever consider living there. it’s as close to an orwellian dystopian nightmare world, as it’s currently possible to have, and still be part of the US. texas is certainly giving mississippi a run for its money, as the state least likely to succeed.

    • Listen, I like you, and I always think you have good things to say. But could you maybe consider not saying shit like this? It’s sneering at people because you don’t like where they live, and it’s not much different from the Malkinites who sneer at people who live in San Francisco, or who gloated about Boston. You wouldn’t sneer that all Virginians are stupid because Ken Cuccinelli is from their state, would you? Please try to consider that it’s a big fucking planet and not everyone can live in whichever perfect utopia you’re located at.

      Sorry to say it so severe, but I just get tired of how hard it is for all of us to be empathetic.

      • witless chum

        This, about 1,100 times. People’s unearned sneering at people who live in other places is some grating shit. Most people in this country still live in places for the reason that most people live most places: because their parents did. It’s no different and no less dickish than sneering at people for not being born middle class or rich. Even in deepest Gohmertburg, thousands of people did not vote for him and many of those probably hold him in complete, embarrassed contempt. I, for one, am not going to go around spitting in the face of anyone who already suffers all manner of fucking indignities and doesn’t need more shit from the their putative allies. See also demeaning of Appalachia. (Reading Crum by Lee Maynard right now, made me think of that.)

        I mean, I know Michigan is objectively the best place in all the world to live, that’s why I’ve lived here all my life. But I don’t go around being a dick about it.

        • Linnaeus

          Don’t mess with the mitten.

      • The thing is, there are plenty of things to say about states like Texas without getting down to the resident level. I say this as someone who will gladly take a running dump on Alabama and I still have family members down there.

        Also, “Why are you living there??” Puts you on the same bus as the smug gobshites who blithely inform us that people chose to live near a factory that produced a highly combustible substance so they have no right to complain if shit gets blowed up. Not the best company.

        How about this? They’re there because that’s where all their stuff is.

      • James Hare

        Ken Cuccinelli lives in Fairfax County as do I. He went to some of the same schools I did. He won election after election in a district just a few miles from where I live. Thank you for pointing out that Cuccinelli speaks for a subset of Virginians rather than all of us. We’re going to try to prove that subset of Virginians is a minority in November.

    • bradp

      it’s as close to an orwellian dystopian nightmare world, as it’s currently possible to have, and still be part of the US

      And yet its population has grown by more than any other state, and at a greater percentage than any other state besides that other dystopian nightmare world, North Dakota.

      • Timb

        Due to immigration, which Texans hate.

        This just in from Brad, New York City in the 1840’s and 50’s was the best place to live because it had high population growth in its Irish slums

        • bradp

          Its more than that.

          Texas also has been making by far the biggest gains in domestic migration.


          Also notice the biggest losers in net domestic migration:

          California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, and New Jersey.

          • djw

            Yes, resource extraction is good for the economy, and relatively recession proof.

          • DocAmazing

            Oh please oh please ohpleaseohplease yes the economic atosphere in Texas is divine and California is a hellscape and so one should ever move here.

            Tell as many no-hopers as you can: Texas, not California!

            • Anna in PDX

              Yes, tell them to stay away from Oregon too while you are at it.

              • Yes it’s hellish here and we have terrible beer!

              • witless chum

                I remember being on vacation in Oregon with my folks in the early 90s. My dad was chatting with some people outside an awesome pizza place on a pier who warmed up greatly when they sussed out our California plates were just because we flew into San Francisco and got a rental car and that we really lived in Michigan with no thought of moving there.

          • Cody

            You’re right, it is a great place to live if you have a lot of money.

            You can practically do whatever you want, and not a dime will be wasted on all the starving, uneducated, and poor people crowding up the cities.

            Luckily some good gerrymandering will stop them from democratically being able to get help.


          • DrDick

            And right now there is a massive influx of people into western North Dakota and eastern Montana. Of course this is exclusively do to the oil boom in the Bakken region and otherwise no sane human wants to live there (almost all of the counties in eastern Montana have consistently lost population for the past 30-40 years). Do try yo visit reality occasionally.

      • Atticus Dogsbody

        It’s turning into China.

    • cb20476

      Then go live in California. They’re so much better off than Texas.

      • Timb

        They are. Higher standard of living, better infrastructure, better public accommodations, more ethnically and culturally diverse, and less economic inequality. On any measure of public well-being Texas cannot hold a candle to California.

        On the measure of where it’s better to be a neo-feudal rich asshole (see Beck, Glenn), the. I think the corruption and Third World status of Texas would be better, but, if you’re one of us regular folks, then you should probably avoid Texas

        • one measure


          You can get really good barbeque in Oakland and LA and probably lots of places in between but your average bbq place in California will suck ass compared to your average place in Texas

      • I’ve lived in both and I’d take California any day.

    • the original spencer

      People live where they live for all kinds of reasons. I’m going to be moving to Texas soon because of work, not because I want to live in an industrial hellscape – and I guarantee you I have more than two functioning synapses.

      • Karen

        What part?

        • the original spencer

          Austin, fortunately.

          • Karen

            Welcome! On behalf of the People’s Republic of Travis County, I extend greetings!

            • the original spencer

              Hey, thanks!

              • Karen

                You’re welcome and I’m very glad to have you here.

    • Karen

      I was born here, raised here, and all my family and friends live here. It hasn’t always been the heart of conservative crazy, either. People upthread mentioned Molly Ivins. We also had Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Lyndon Johnson, Hemann Sweatt, and Sam Rayburn. We voted for every Dem who won in the 20th century until Clinton. All of our big cities but Ft. Worth are reliably blue. Heck, we even made Emancipation Day a holiday (that’s Juneteenth.). I am not going to allow a bunch of losers, most of whom weren’t born or raised here, take away that legacy.

      • Kathleen

        After visiting my brother and sister in law in Dallas and running the White Rocks marathon, I flirted with the idea of moving to Dallas. I really liked the city (they took me to the established neighborhoods so I avoided the McMansion hoods that in my opinion plague any city), the economy seems to be booming, and cost of living is not that bad. They’ve done quite well there. They also told me Dallas proper is blue.

        • Karen

          Dallas county elected a Latin lesbian sheriff in 2008.

          • Karen

            Ugh. Damn autocorrect. LatinA. A female with a Spanish surname.

            Although, a lesbian sheriff who spoke Latin would be truly awesome.

          • ajay

            -The sheriff is a l–
            -What did he say?
            -He said the sheriff is a Latina!
            – Yes! We know!
            -No, dagnabbit! I said the sheriff is a l–

            • Karen


            • the original spencer

              Now, is the sheriff bringing the bong or taking it away?

  • Jeff

    Have you ever left the classroom? Not sure how you can say non union workplaces are less safe. I know of one in particular that is non union and has the strictest of safety policies that are more stringent than what ohsa demands. All this nonsense about being summarily fired is also bs. If they fire you for refusing to work in an unsafe manor I don’t know of a court who wouldn’t award a judgement. Quit drinking the koolaid.

    • Unsympathetic

      State the name of the company and precisely what safety policy they “have” which is “more” than what osha requires.

      State the court and the judge you “know of” which would always award a judgement.

      You’re either an ignorant troll or a blowhard – or, hopefully for the interwebz, both.

      Unverifiable assertion does not constitute an effective argument – or a political position in the real world.

      • Timb

        And, of course, it’s always nice to sue after the unsafe work conditions kill you. Libertarian solutions

    • rea

      If they fire you for refusing to work in an unsafe manor I don’t know of a court who wouldn’t award a judgement.

      You ever here of a thing called “at will” employment?

      • Malaclypse

        He hasn’t even heard of spelling.

        • Or else he’s a deeply closeted Wozzname Abbey fan.

        • rea

          Given my “here”, I can’t complain.

    • Timb

      Unsafe manors also have ghosts and you need Scooby Doo and his friends to figure out he culprit is the groundskeeper who would inherit the estate

      • the original spencer


    • Jonas

      I’m some guy on the internet and I know of a safe unionized workplace. Prove me wrong!

    • the original spencer

      All this nonsense about being summarily fired is also bs.

      Have you ever actually held a job?

      • DrDick

        Probably not.

    • Warren Terra

      I know of one in particular that is non union and has the strictest of safety policies that are more stringent than what ohsa demands

      Well, that settles it then.

      PS, just for fun: the same sentence, corrected to (more?) proper English, in case you want to express the same blithering notion elsewhere but wish to appear to be a literate idiot:

      I know of one in particular that is non-union and has the strictest of safety policies, more stringent than OSHA demands

    • I know of one in particular that is non union and has the strictest of safety policies that are more stringent than what ohsa demands

      And it’s the BEST little chicken farm in Texas.

    • povertyrich

      I worked at place once and didn’t get hurt, therefore unions suck.

    • Linnaeus

      This factory of which you speak is certainly not this one.

  • montag2

    This is especially ironic, since it was an ammonium nitrate explosion, and it’s not as if Texas has no experience with those–it was on April 16, 1947, that the Grandcamp caught fire and exploded after loading 2300 tons of ammonium nitrate in the harbor at Texas City, and April 17 that the High Flyer exploded with a load of ammonium nitrate (and sulfur powder–what on earth were they thinking!?) on board, after drifting too close to the burning Grandcamp. Those fires and explosions killed 600 people.

    Quite an anniversary reenactment, Texas.

  • Jeff

    “The OSH Act protects workers who complain to their employer, OSHA or other government agencies about unsafe or unhealthful working conditions in the workplace or environmental problems. You cannot be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSHA Act. Help is available from OSHA for whistleblowers”
    Directly from the OSHA website. Also, go fuck yourselves. Turtle out.

    • rm

      It’s on the OSHA website, therefore it never happens.

    • Shorter Jeff:

      “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Reagan found these the most welcoming words in the English language.

      (In other news: we have always been at war with Eastasia.)

    • the original spencer

      Ah, I see – there are rules against it, so it doesn’t happen. Because employers never break the rules.

      Look, this kind of thing happens all the time, and it’s not as if the offending employer will tell the OSHA investigator “well, yes, he refused to work in an unsafe environment so I terminated his employment.” Employers aren’t stupid. They know how to cover their tracks and sow just enough doubt to suggest that maybe Employee X was fired for some other reason. And in the absence of union protections, it’s frighteningly easy for them to do so.

      I’d recommend reading Erik’s recurring series This Day In Labor History because it’s excellent and informative, but what would be the point, really?

      • Atticus Dogsbody

        Jeff don’t need no book learnin’!

      • DrDick

        Oddly, when it comes to gun control having rules does no good because nobody ever pays attention to them. Conservative logic, how does it work?

        • Malaclypse

          Criminals don’t obey laws, DrDick. Job Creators, by definition, are god-like beings that always obey the laws that evil government bureaucrats place as obstacles in their paths.

    • Cody

      So you’re pro-regulation?

    • You cannot ^legally be transferred, denied a raise, have your hours reduced, be fired, or punished in any other way because you used any right given to you under the OSHA Act ^although employers do it all of the time and then you get to decide whether you want to fight the holy job creators or just look for another job. Should you select the fight it out option, the acolytes of the Invisible Hand will swarm about your ears for being a WATB and if you wind up on the dole, screams of MOOOCHER will be added to the burden.

      • delurking

        And here is how it works in the Right to Work states, Jeff, since you have clearly never had a job in one of them (or at all?): the boss doesn’t fire you for reporting him to OSHA.

        The boss dings you for petty shit over the next six months. Coming back from lunch two minutes late. Talking too much on the line. Not having your coveralls zipped all the way. Whatever, and he will find something.

        Then he fires you for that. See? Nothing to do with the OSHA report.

        Or if he can’t find something, then he fires you because he doesn’t need workers on your shift anymore. Nothing to do with your OSHA complaint, just how things worked out.

        (What, he’s hiring people for that shift the next week? He doesn’t have to explain that to you, it’s a Right to Work state.)

  • bradp

    First, non-union states often have terrible working conditions that can lead to horrible accidents.

    Can anyone link to any studies that manage to quantify the difference of accident rates between traditionally union states and non-union states?

  • Oh, and fuck Michelle Malkin.

    Not literally, mind you. I wouldn’t touch that with a 10 meter cattle prod.

    • Airborne Simian

      The left loves and respects women, unless they dare be conservative, example #2,999,345.

      • Malkin’s a woman? Who knew? I didn’t realize demons from the pits of hell had gender.

      • It must be said, though, that Michelle Malkin is simply a horrible person, a horrible human being. Her gender doesn’t really enter into the discussion.

        • timb

          Yeah, any decent person loathes her because of her ideas and frothing anger.

      • witless chum

        How is saying you don’t want to fuck somebody because they are an objectively loathsome person disrespectful to women?

        It’s disrespectful to Michelle Malkin, who’s earned it 1,000fold. It seems you think feminists or their allies should practice something akin to Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment, but like a lot of pithy things that Reagan said it’s stupid if you actually think about it and even he didn’t follow it in practice.

        It seems like Major Kong mentioning that he’d like to have sex with Malkin despite finding her loathsome would be more disrespectful to women, as it implies her appearance is the only important thing.

      • the original spencer

        So wait – you’re saying that if Major Kong had said he does want to fuck Michelle Malkin, that would be more in keeping with respect and love for women?

        Does someone who professes to love and respect women therefore have to want to fuck any and all of them?

      • wengler

        Being a filipina woman makes her quite the interesting white supremacist.

    • DrDick

      I would not touch it with your ten meter cattle prod, but I second the emotion.

    • I should apologize.

      My only wish is that Mrs. Malkin be treated with the same kindness and respect that the Right lavished on Sandra Fluke.

  • cb20476

    What an absolute piece of crap. Already trying to politicize this and calling anyone that finds that offensive “flying monkeys”. The hatred from the left never stops….

    • Timb

      And, yet you flew over, squawked, flung your poo, and then asked for a banana.

      Your people really are at war with metaphors, aren’t you?

      • DrDick

        They do not own mirrors.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      instead of whining, maybe you could explain how the decisions were made to either put a fertilizer plant in the middle of town or to allow the town to grow right next to a fertilizer plant – or why none of that matters, even if the damned thing blows up and kills a bunch of people. go for it

      • Airborne Simian

        Free people making free decisions decided to live next to the plant.

        I know youw want Papa Government to be there to wipe everyone’s ass, but some of us believe in personal responsibility.

        • Good luck selling your house after someone builds a fertilizer plant next to it. That sound you just heard was your property value plummeting.

          Believe it or not zoning laws aren’t there to keep wealthy plant owners from maximizing their profits.

          • Airborne Simian

            Shouldn’t you favor people living close to work to reduce their carbon output?

            Left-wingers will always, always find something to complain about. Some great injustice, Somewhere, that must be corrected by Papa Government. Build the plant 40 miles away from workers, and suddenly we will have moans about how much a long commute harms the environment.

            • I thought liberals didn’t work? I thought we just sat around all day collecting welfare?

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              in the case of a fertilizer plant, probably not. but thanks for trying

              • the original spencer

                Yeah, I think in that case, I’d prefer to just encourage carpooling for carbon output reduction.

                But see, there I go again, with my stubborn liberal insistence of not looking at the world as a series of binary, black-or-white choices.

            • Cody

              Left-wingers will always, always find something to complain about. Some great injustice, Somewhere, that must be corrected

              So you’re saying that we always want things to be better while you are personally attempting to just keep things as bad as they are.

              That’s great. I’m glad you summed up Republicans really well.

              • Airborne Simian

                I am saying that if we lived in utopia, liberals would feel theneed to invent problems so they could get Papa Government to “solve” them, but it isn’t really about solving (real or imaginary) problems for the liberal, it’s about power and control and growing the size/scope of government.

                • Malaclypse

                  Can we patent problems once we invent them, or is copyright more applicable?

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  so your personal freedom should count for more than, say, the probable decline in property value for homeowners if a chemical plant buys the land across the street, and can do so because the local government has no power?

                • witless chum

                  And I imagine that conservatives don’t really care about the right to locate your fertilizer plants within blowing up distance of the middle school and the old folks home, but are simply more interested in enforcing hierarchy, which they like to imagine they’re on the top of. How dare the plebs tell their masters what to do?

                  Or maybe we imagine things about everyone’s motivation AFTER we do things like zone dangerous industries in such a way as they can’t blow things up, using whatever means might accomplish that goal.

                  And, in Michigan, we had a fireworks factory in a small town that blew up twice within two years, killing a total of a dozen workers. Which was bad enough and a failure of that bad ol’ papa government from shutting the unsafe idiots down the first time. But it didn’t blow up the damn town because when you give tiny rural towns filled with conservatives the tools to keep from blowing up the damn town, they often make use of them.

                • the original spencer

                  Hey, those homeowners knew when they bought their homes 20 years ago that a chemical plant could move in across the street! Free people making free decisions!

                • joe from Lowell

                  There are dozens of people dead because of this thing we’re complaining about, you heartless douche.

                  Go scrabble around your bedroom floor for some remnant of your humanity.

                • Warren Terra

                  Can you save your talk about liberals hypothetically “inventing problems” for a time when we aren’t discussing the possible deaths of dozens of people? Because – and this may seem odd to you – I for one choose to see those deaths as an actual problem, requiring no invention.

                • njorl

                  If utopia involves being killed by an exploding fertilizer plant, I’ll “find” that a problem.

                • Haystack

                  so your personal freedom should count for more than, say, the probable decline in property value for homeowners if a chemical plant buys the land across the street, and can do so because the local government has no power?

                  That’s exactly what he’s saying.

                • Pseudonym

                  Yes, this has nothing to do with solving the (real or imaginary) problem of nearby buildings getting blown up. If you believe in personal responsibility so much, why are you upset about this in the first place? Those victims just got what they deserved.

            • timb

              Left-wingers will always, always find something to complain about.

              This was my favorite part. A dude who comes from a Malkin, manufactured outrage site to complain about Erik, has the lack of self-awareness to write that.

              Self-refuting in one sentence

        • the original spencer

          Free people making free decisions decided to live next to the plant.

          A decision made without a) complete information or b) reasonable alternatives is not a free decision at all.

          I can’t speak to whether either of those caveats applies in this case. But I do know that the mere fact a decision was made, is not by itself evidence that it was freely made.

          • DrDick

            Please do not confuse the monkey with your facts and logic. It cannot hold even half an idea in its tiny brain at a time.

            • the original spencer

              Sorry. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking.

          • witless chum

            The maddening irony of this guy’s particular bit of dickery is that often people making such “free choices” assume that the government is watching out for things like keeping the more explosive industries a little further away. Trusting that you live in a decent society shouldn’t get you killed.

          • PSP

            Does anyone know whether near the bomb factory is the local wrong side of the tracks (where the brown people live)?

        • Brandon

          “personal responsibility”

          …the fuck that have to do with this?

        • timb

          Are you really this dumb? You seriously believe “free people” choose to live in houses near fertilizer plants and government, which has to clean up the sites, bury the dead, treat the wounded, and investigate the cause has NO role in proper zoning?

          The conservative movement has finally descended into feudalism.

          This same guy is mad because the government continues to offer flood insurance for people along the Mississippi and HATEs the Corps of Engineers for trying to prevent those floods…

          “Free people want to live next to a free river, then let them enjoy their freedom by dying and costing the rest of us lots of money.”

    • mds

      Yeah, Loomis, get with the program: start posting personal information about a “Saudi national” who was suspiciously running away from the fertilizer plant after it exploded. ‘Cause it’s not politicizing if you immediately blame it on Muslims.

      • Airborne Simian

        No different from the left’s constant howling about how the suspect must be a white Christian male, or the neverendihg slander than Timothy McVeigh was a “Christian terrorist” even though he was a self admitted agnostic at best (“science is my God”-Tim McVeigh, though if I didn’t cite it you might think it could come straight from Professor Loomis’s mouth).

        • BigHank53

          neverendihg slander

          I’m sorry–are you popping up to defend the reputation of Timothy McVeigh, that fine upstanding mass-murderer? Because it certainly looks as though you are.

          • Airborne Simian

            It’s a slander against Christians, not McVeigh.

            • BigHank53

              You do have to admit that the anti-abortion terrorists in the US have been exclusively Christian, though. It’s a fairly substantial collection by now, too, so adding “a Christian extremist” to the list of people who might be attempting blow people up isn’t really a stretch, is it?

              Also, now you know how the billion or so ordinary Muslims feel. Except they get an even shorter end of the stick.

              • Airborne Simian

                How many people have died in abortion bombings over the past 40 plus years?

                • Malaclypse

                  Clever to not discuss shootings.

                • BigHank53

                  Those goalposts sure can scamper, can’t they?

                • witless chum

                  This is really why Jason Hanson retired.

            • the original spencer

              You’re right – we should really try instead to tie him to Libertarians and the NRA, as he did more closely identify with those groups.

            • DrDick

              White, Christian, conservative extremists have committed more terrorist acts in the US since 1950 that everyone else combined, so it kind of makes since to think of them first.

          • Oh, you know he and Eric Rudolph are Great American Heroes. I’m honestly a bit surprised the teabaggers haven’t worked harder to rehab their reputations…

            • Give them time. They’re still working on Joe McCarthy.

              • Warren Terra

                There’s a queue, after all; first in, first out. They’re also working on Hoover. Both Hoovers, in fact.

        • rm

          And I thought your first comment was a crude parody of the idiocy of glibertarianism. Now I see it was not a parody.

          I’m trying to remember if I’ve read or heard anyone on TV or the internet claim that the Boston murderer “must be” anything at all. Other than major cable TV personalities claiming that it “must be” a certain Saudi man. If you hear “constant howling,” are you sure that’s not the voices in your head?

        • MAJeff

          It’s hard out there for a cracker.

          • Airborne Simian

            Racial slurs are the worst possible thing imaginable, unless they’re directed at whites. Another law of the left.

            • witless chum

              People who whine, in the United States of America, about racism directed against white people are the ignorant of history at best. People who whine about white people using racial slurs against other white people are just fucking baffling.

              • timb

                Almost everyone I hate in the world is a white person.

            • DrDick

              Speaking as a Southern white man, “cracker” is not a racial slur, as it does not apply to all white people. It only applies to butt ignorant, racist fuckwits like you.

              • Wapiti

                Out of ignorance, I must ask – is “cracker” as an insult on the level of “yankee”, or something worse?

                • the original spencer

                  As a southerner myself, I’ve always considered it worse, because to my mind, “cracker” implies ignorance in a way that “yankee” doesn’t.

                  But it’s not really that much worse.

                • When I lived in Mississippi a black guy once called me a “Yankee”.

                  I said “Yeah, aren’t you glad we won?”

                • DrDick

                  “Cracker” pretty much means “white trash” and is probably worse than “Yankee”, in part because of the reasons the original spencer cites.

                • joe from Lowell

                  I once dated a girl from Memphis who told me that the image of a Yankee was a greasy guy named Vinnie with gold chains, driving a Camaro. Basically, a “guido.”

                  Which is hilarious, because up here, it is used to distinguish WASPs from “white ethnics.”

                • “Cracker” is a small step above “shitkicker” or “peckerwood,” but not very much.

              • Glenn

                Yeah, I have to call a tiny bit of bullshit on this. I grew up in Georgia, and this comment reminds me of the defense of the use of the n-word that I heard repeatedly — “Oh not all black people are [n-word]s, just the [lazy ones, criminal ones, whatever they happened to be grousing about at the time].” That was, I obviously don’t need to explain, pure crap.

                Now, given the South’s history I can hardly get worked up about calling white people “crackers” or suggesting for a moment it carries with it the baggage and hatred of the use of the n-word. It clearly does not, and anyone who would equate the two is an idiot. But let’s not pretend that there’s not at least a racial component to the slur.

                • Anna in PDX

                  I agree with you and I also don’t use it because of the classist element.

                • witless chum

                  I’m with you, Anna. Especially coming from the educated, mostly middle class or better readership of a political blog it strikes me as kicking down, not up.

                • DrDick

                  It really is mostly classist.

            • joe from Lowell

              Barang, please.

              • Malaclypse

                Who you calling Barang, Gwai Lo?

                • DrDick

                  Estaki hatke fvmpe!

          • InnerPartisan

            Y’all don’t know what it’s like
            Being male, middle-class and white!

            • joe from Lowell

              Try to put yourself in our shoes:

              You’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and complete strangers cross the street when they see you…to come up and ask you directions.

              There have been times when I couldn’t even find a mall cop.

            • Cody

              Ben Folds is on tour with Guster and Bare Naked Ladies….

              Just saying. Intend on being in Seattle for that show.

        • Cody

          No different from the left’s constant howling about how the suspect must be a white Christian male,

          Can you find an example of this for me? I’m utterly perplexed what it would look like.

        • mds

          No different from the left’s constant howling about how the suspect must be a white Christian male

          So you admit that what the right is doing is constant howling, eh? Interesting.

          or the neverendihg slander than Timothy McVeigh was a “Christian terrorist”

          Careful with using “terrorist.” Plenty of your fellow travelers still admire his methods, and are calling for them to be repeated. I agree that caution is called for on the “Christian” thing, though. That’s why I prefer “conservative” or “right-wing.”

          even though he was a self admitted agnostic at best

          “Ranger Brad, I’m a scientist. I don’t believe in anything.”

          though if I didn’t cite it you might think it could come straight from Professor Loomis’s mouth

          No, I mightn’t (e.g., I presume that he routinely operates light switches without praying to science first). Why do you think it could?

          “Airborne Simian” is a nice touch, though. Vaguely Poe-ish, even, but in this mixed-up world we live in, who can tell anymore?

          • wjts

            “Ranger Brad, I’m a scientist. I don’t believe in anything.”

            Ah, a lover of the classics.

            • mds

              Well, it figures that you’d catch that, wjts. Give yourself a round of applause. Slowly!

        • Why wasn’t The Left out there that the ricin letters were obviously the work of an Elvis impersonator (part time)? Hmmm!

          w w w.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/04/18/us/ap-us-suspicious-letters.html?

        • DrDick

          Actually, the FBI is saying now that the suspect IS white, fuckwit.

        • joe from Lowell

          No different from the left’s constant howling about how the suspect must be a white Christian male

          Except that, as usual, we’re right.

          • Airborne Simian

            Oh? You know who the suspect is? I’m sure the FBI would like to know.

            • DrDick

              No, but the FBI reports that he is white. Dumbfuck.

              • Malaclypse

                Technically, one local outfit is reporting that the FBI said this. I haven’t seen the FBI confirm it.

                I can, however, confirm the Malkinite is a dumbfuck.

                • John (not McCain)

                  Malkinite is the stuff that makes Superman stupid.

            • joe from Lowell

              Oh? You know who the suspect is?

              Suspects, plural, you cracker-ass moron.

              Here’s the photo, Eugene V. Duuuuuuhs. They look like the crowd at a Hank Williams, Jr. concert.

        • evodevo

          Oh, I guess you have forgotten Eric Rudolph, then …

    • DrDick

      Oh look, the monkeys are here!

      • Airborne Simian

        Your norm due plume is a very fitting one as well.

        • DrDick

          Yours ought to be “dickless monkey shit for brains.”

        • the original spencer

          “Norm due plume?”


          • Anna in PDX

            I’m calling Poe on this one. The name, and the really contrived-looking typos.

        • Hey! What are you doing outside my butt, Sim?????

  • As someone employed in the ag world and as a citizen of Texas I can tell you that there are hundreds of places like this here and throughout the country. The local supplier of fertilizer and other ag chems is usually within proximity to the marketplace. I was going over the list of places I have bought throughout the state and nearly without exception (I could remember 2 places that were outside populated areas or in industrial areas) they are close to residential and densely populated areas. This was not in fact a manufacturing location, though they probably did some blending of fertilizer which is common. If you are doing it right you should tailor your fertilizer application to what the soil test tells you the crop and your soil requires, so it would not be unusual to find several different types of fertilizer on site.
    The place in question was cited by the TCEQ back in 06 for some things, mainly concerning the anyhdrous ammonia tanks, in particular they wanted a wall built to keep anybody from plowing into the tanks from a car wreck.
    Let’s say there was zoning in effect. In a town of 2500 population there isn’t a whole heckuva lot of space that has the requisite infrastructure that doesn’t have people nearby. Over on the other side of the tracks, next to the hardware supply, the tractor dealer and the welding and machine shop sits the ag supply co-op. So where exactly are they supposed to go? If there had been a fired-up zoning committee that said all that industry has to go somewhere outside of town wouldn’t everybody been grandfathered in anyhow? Or do we propose to tell every business with potentially dangerous and hazardous operations to get up and get the hell on down the road, regardless of how much it costs? That welder has a big bunch of acetylene sitting around all the time. The machine shop creates aluminum dust all day long.

    Ok, here is one to ponder. Down in the Houston area, Pasadena/Deer Park area there are refineries and the adjuncts to them all along one side of the highway and on the other side sits the rest of the community. There is a reason why we in DFW call that particular town ‘Stinadena’. Well as it happens, the refineries were there first. Why in the world people decided to live right across the road is beyond me, but there it is. So what if I have to drive 20 miles to get to work. Oh right, that costs gas money. Ok, so maybe I can live with the stink and the possible risk of explosion. Do we now 70something years later decide that all these well-established plants have to pick up operations and move God knows where and start over? Where to exactly? Who is going to pay for it? I don’t particularly mind telling Exxon and Citgo and any other big-assed oil bidness to get the hell out, but I have a harder time telling all the other members of the co-op that we are gonna have to dig up a big, big pile of money to move operations out of town.

    Just some thoughts. And the flying monkeys need to get a damn life.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      what i’ve seen here is that the ag supply places have outgrown the spaces they had in the city limits and thanks to the zoning ordinance haven’t been able to add on in town. then they go out in the country and yeah – it takes $. in the long run, though, everybody is better off – more room to expand, nobody complaining about noise and dust, etc

      at the same time, there is something to what was there first. not far from me is a power plant, and the people around the thing complain incessantly about it. but when the plant was new, and even built onto, there were no houses near it. i don’t quite know why people do things like *that*

      • sparks

        Ask the politician who ok’d the development. After you pry him out of the developer’s pocket, of course.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          this was back when were i lived was a libertarian paradise of sorts. probably there weren’t any payoffs. i think *that* is the real problem conservative libertarians have – having to give up a bit of profit for appearances’ sake

    • guthrie

      I have gotten the impression from seeing ammunition factories that large berms of earth around dangerous places would be a good idea to contain and deflect the blast.

    • Sara

      Off the top of my head (and I’m no expert): the refineries, who by now have learned that their business is dangerous and probably can calculate the radius within which that danger extends, could be required to buy land within that radius at market value. This would give people the resources to properly relocate and demonstrate that the refinery company is behaving responsibly. If they want to lessen the radius of danger, they could change their practices to make refining safer.

      Not a very pro-business idea, but like you said, the refineries are well-established.

  • Informant

    Good God, that video was horrifying! What was that man thinking shooting in portrait mode?!? Landscape, people! Landscape!

    • And move the mirror! It’s distracting!

    • Bill Murray

      or just a turn of 90 degrees

  • Joshua

    Just what in the hell is up with this “too soon” crap?

    The problem with “too soon” logic is that at some point it must, by definition, not be “too soon”, which means whoever decides that gets an advantage in that their words go out first. We saw this, for example, after 9/11 – by the time the “too soon” barrier was crossed, we got a drumbeat towards war, draconian legislation, and campaign ads where Democratic war heroes morphed into Osama bin Laden.

    I feel for the people who died in this explosion. I really do. Thing is, it doesn’t really matter to those affected by it. I guess I can talk about how sorry I feel on the internet to make myself feel better and look better to the world but who cares?

    I think it is perfectly appropriate use of brainpower to wonder why so much of this stuff was so close to a dangerous fertilizer plant.

    • Pseudonym

      Well, there’s no way to draw a clear unambiguous line dividing “too soon” from “long enough”, so by conservative logic it should be considered fully formed and ready for political commentary at the moment of “fertilization” so to speak.

  • Pingback: » Blog Archive » ‘No risk’ of explosion()

  • wjts

    …And Michelle Malkin sends her flying monkeys at me for talking about this event in terms of unions. Classy!

    It really is exceedingly poor form to suggest that this tragedy might have happened within the context of a set of deliberate policy decisions made at local, state, and national levels and that these decisions influenced the extent and magnitude of the disaster. The only polite response is to shrug one’s shoulders and accept that this is just going to be a thing that happens from now on.

    • “Maybe sometimes accidents just happen” – That Which Dwells Beneath rebRand Paul’s Hairpiece.

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  • A nursing home next to a fertilizer plant?

    Well, I suppose it’s only one step to Soylent Green, huh?

  • There’s an actual town named “West” in Texas?

    Not particularly creative, are they?

    • Joey Maloney

      And it doesn’t appear to be west of anything in particular.

      • Warren Terra


      • Jean-Michel

        It’s named after a guy.

        • the original spencer

          Billy West?

      • Frequent reader infrequent poster

        “West is a small country town of just 2,700 people. Its name refers not to its location on the state map, in northern central Texas, but to its first postmaster, T. M. West. “

        • So Texans named a town in the north, West?

          Oh my. That does…indicate…something

          • Bitter Scribe

            I think there’s a town in Pennsylvania called North East, or something like that.

            • There’s also a town called Blue Balls PA which is precisely halfway between Intercourse and Virginville.

            • Malaclypse

              There is also a road in PA called Street Road.

          • Warren Terra

            Northwestern University, anyone?

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  • Doc

    So, in order to prevent a tragedy like this, West TX should emulate — Detroit?

    Have you BEEN to Detroit? I’ll take my chances next to a fertilizer factory in TX before I would be caught dead(quite literally) in Detroit.

    • Lassie

      You guys hear that?

    • If there’s one thing I love, it’s dimwitted racists who intentionally put themselves in more danger due to being, well, dimwitted racists.

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  • Jack Ramsey

    What kind of an idiot uses unionism as the source of blame on a disaster. By the way, Texas is a Right To Work state and it is heavily unionized. I know because I am an I.A.M. shop steward. So your comment that it is a nonunion state is erroneous. Lastly, how dare you get up on an organized labor soap box when my fellow Texans and your fellow human beings were killed and injured. Shame on you, you are the kind of person who is not welcome in a place where people are treated fairly and with kindness. You’re a jerk.

  • Ken

    I just checked into this from another forum. I don’t believe that I have ever read such unmitigated bullshit form so many uninfromed jackasses in my life. You clowns are the type that would buy a house at the end of an airport runway because it is cheap and then raise hell because of the noise. In none of the comments I read did I see any mention of the Volunteer Firefighterswho lost their lives fighting a fire at the plant before the explosion. IMHO the majority of you are the type who at the first sigh of smoke or even a hint of danger run and hide either in the closet or under the bed.
    Before you open your mouths and bad mouth any employer in any community try your best, as feeble as it appears to be, to at least get the facts straight. As far as your opinions on union versus non-union workplaces, I have worked in both and despite your vitrolic nonsense both must follow the same guide lines and safty rules as laid down by OSHA. The only difference I ever experienced was that in the union work places the incompetent and the ignorant were protected form their stupidity, not by OSHA, but by the union.
    Instead of spewing hatred, try saying some prayers for the people of the community of West, Tx.

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