Explosions Rock Texas Town
Wednesday evening, volunteer firemen in the small town south of Dallas responded to a fire at the West Fertilizer plant. The as-yet-unexplained blaze broke out near several large tanks of anhydrous ammonia, a gas used to make fertilizer that is toxic and can cause severe burns if it contacts water in the body.
Apparently, the gas is also quite flammable because minutes after first responders arrived on the scene, one of the tanks exploded. The blast decimated the fertilizer plant—people may still be trapped under the rubble, firemen included—damaged buildings in the area, including a rest home and apartment complex, and caused damage to as many as 60 homes in a five-block radius.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it even registered 2.1 on the Richter scale. People as far as 50 miles away felt the earth shaking!
Based on the latest estimates, roughly 160 people were injured in this terrible accident and anywhere between five and fifteen people died, with more expected to follow. Doctors at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco reported having five patients in intensive care, two of which are in critical condition. And in the opinion of Dr. George Smith, the emergency management system director of the small town, the death toll could eventually climb as high as 70 by the time this is all said and done.
To make matters worse, there is a second tank of anhydrous ammonia still intact at the plant, but the risk of it exploding is still high. The good news is that people have been evacuated from the area—including more than 130 patients from that rest home I mentioned earlier—so a second explosion likely won’t increase the body count. At least I hope it doesn’t.
Although I did not witness this terrible explosion—and the shock waves never travelled as far as North Carolina, thank goodness—some of the eyewitness accounts have been crazy, to say the least.
“It was like a nuclear bomb went off,” Dr. Smith said of the blast. “Big old mushroom cloud.”
Of course, some of these accounts do little more than perpetuate all the conspiracy theories developing around this disaster.
Now don’t get me wrong. When I first heard about this explosion—at a fertilizer plant, no less (remember that fertilizer can be used to create devastating bombs like the one used by Timothy McVeigh in 1995)—I immediately connected it to the bombing in Boston, as well as the poisoned letters sent to Senator Wicker and President Obama recently.
In other words, I felt like all three represented a “build up” in domestic terrorism that may continue indefinitely if these events are indeed connected. At this point, though, authorities in Texas do not believe any criminal activity was involved in this horrific explosion. And a U.S. intelligence official mentioned that evidence of the blast being set by terrorists has not yet been discovered.
So far, though, terrorism has not been ruled out.
Any time a tragedy like this occurs—as we all know—conspiracy theorists are quick to label them as acts of terrorism, if not crimes perpetrated against the American people by their own government. Unfortunately, these accusations rarely come after a thorough review of the evidence since, obviously, only certain information is shared with the public.
Rather than allowing paranoia to grip us and nudge us towards the “worst case scenario” in every situation, might I suggest a new approach, especially for any conspiracy theorists in the crowd?
This time, why not wait for the evidence to come out before making any snap judgements? At least that way we won’t have to add more stress to our lives when that is likely the last thing that any of us really need.
I know that I don’t.
Posted on April 18, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged accidents, Ammonia, Boston Marathon, commentary, current-events, disaster, news, Oklahoma City, perspectives, Timothy McVeigh, Waco, West Texas. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.