West, Texas: What Went Wrong?

What led to the explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant that killed 14 people and injured hundreds more? Could better oversight, severely lacking in the state, have stopped the disaster, which destroyed over $100 million in property? All of these questions and more have been asked by local, state, and national authorities. Most residents around such plants are not even aware of the inherent danger that they are in. What can be done to change this, asks a recent article posted by http://amarillo.com/?

Better Rules

The way regulations are handled in Texas has led to local agencies being in total control over disaster preparation. This can present a problem with lax enforcement, mainly due to cost-cutting measures. On a federal level, the West depot was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, in 1985. This is mainly due to the fact that OSHA oversees more than 7 million workplaces around the country, a virtual red tape nightmare with not enough inspectors to cover the amount of companies they inspect.

State Involvement

With little to no state involvement in accident prevention, the regulating of workplaces falls in large part to local authorities. This has led to disjointed communication between the different agencies involved. With inspections at some sites few and far between at a local level, is it no wonder that there is little to any standard regulations. Some cities, such as Amarillo, Texas, have worked hard to create concrete standards for disaster planning, but this is not the case across the state, and with no state involvement in such planning on a local level, this is likely not to happen.

The first step toward fixing such bad oversight involves developing a database of chemicals within facilities across the country. This would give first responders a heads up when going into a situation and possibly allow them to take steps to lessen the impact of such a disaster as happened in West, Texas.

 

For more information about the West, Texas, disaster, visit: http://amarillo.com/news/local-news/2013-05-12/chemical-storage-sites-safe-or-deadly