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JFC.

Like so many people in my neck of the woods (I'm in the DFW area of Texas, about an hour and a half north of West, TX), driving 1-35 is a torment. Wall to wall traffic, and it's the only corridor to Austin. The highlight of every 1-35 trip is a stop in West for kolaches at the Little Czech Bakery. It's a rite of passage for every college student from Baylor to UT, to Texas State, truly.

You pull off the highway, it's right there on the feeder road, and you roll out with fantastic pastries. People at the bakery last night could see the smoke flume, and could feel the concussive wave from the explosion.

There's not much to West, it's a typical small Texas town - a Sonic, Wal-mart, lots and lots of small businesses. And the fertilizer plant. Only about 2000 people in the whole place. Wide open spaces filled with people who don't make much.

To give you an idea of the scope of this, the Oklahoma City Bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols used around 2000 pounds of ammonium nitrate (basically powdered urine) to blow up 16 city blocks. In West, they had 54,000 pounds.

The stuff that blew up last night was anhydrous ammonia, NH3 - stuff you put on your grass to green it up. That ScottsGreen, Miracle Grow, ChemLawn on and on. That's what it is. (To be fair, that stuff is also used in pharmecutical production. But that's not what this particular plant makes.) As a gas, it's absolute poison. If you used ammonia in your bathroom to clean your tub and you didn't have a vent open? You realistically could die. (Hey, on Hoarders they talk about this with cat urine and how it kills people.) Now magnify that to the scale of that plant. It's just devastating.

All this week I've been writing a script for my show about fertilizers, why people need to lay off, etc. Huh. Fucking timely.

[ETA] Correction. Old school NH3, Ammonia nitrate comes from dried urine (usually pigs). This plant used all of this natural gas that's slowly poisoning the water table (another rant for another day) mixed with atmospheric ammonia. Yay? (I wish they'd go back to powdered pig piss. At least that stuff would be getting used. OR STOP USING MANUFACTURED FERTILIZERS, GUYS. FARMS. <-- mostly them.)

I don't know if any of you are from that area (or have people there) but this is a great list of resources from finding people, getting shelter, and organizations that are accepting donations.

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liz_marcs
Apr. 19th, 2013 01:34 pm (UTC)
I am truly sorry to read about the events in your neck of the woods. It's just awful and I feel for everyone in that town.

The thing that blew me away (and almost everyone that I know up here) is when they were showing the Google Maps overview of the area. It's like...was there no zoning laws in the town? It looked like the plant was practically in the middle of town. A bunch of us don't understand why a fertilizer plant handling ammonia nitrate (of all things) wouldn't be isolated from the town by at least a half-mile just as a safety margin (an inadequate safety margin, as it turns out, but still).

Industrial accidents are the worst, because they really do affect the surrounding community with toxic fumes and can result in devastation. But this...it truly is horrifying.
stoney321
Apr. 19th, 2013 02:19 pm (UTC)
The zoning there was crazy. (As in, there wasn't really any.) Where I live, zoning is TIGHT. So yeah, that's baffling to me, too.
liz_marcs
Apr. 19th, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
Between the Boston Marathon bombing in my backyard and the on-going manhunt that is literally going on in practically my backyard, and the horrible events that rained down on you in your backyard, I've decided...

This week is so fired.

I really need to unplug from the world, put my hands over my ears, and start singing at the top of my lungs, because right now I'm so done.
stoney321
Apr. 19th, 2013 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to stay in close contact all day with my other Boston 'burb friends, too. It's INSANE.

Which is why I am spending the day reading fluffy fanfic. GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU. <3

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Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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