Explosions at a Texas Fertilizer Plant: More than 160 Injured (Video)
Unfortunately, this has been a horrible week for explosions.
While the nation is still coming to terms with the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon, a massive explosion took place at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas at around 7:50 p.m. last night.
More than 160 have been reported injured so far, with two patients in critical condition, three in serious condition. While there is no official count on the death toll, Dr. George Smith, the city's Emergency Management Systems Director, said it could go all the way to 60 or 70.
Since the explosion involves chemical fertilizer - something Farmer Jay McCobb and other organic types extol the dangers of often - we reached out to him this morning to get his take on the tragic events.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the explosion measured as a 2.1-seismic event: shaking homes up to 50 miles away. The blast forced the evacuation of 2,800 people, about half the town's population.
The explosion has been compared by many to that of a nuclear blast. It stripped away the walls and windows of a nearby 50-unit apartment complex.
Warning: the video is intense.
At this point, authorities do not believe the event was not crime-related. According to Waco Police Department Sargent William Patrick Swanton, "Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out."
Although the gas has been turned off, officials assert that the dangers are not over yet. There are still fertilizer tanks in tact on the property and there are concerns that the winds may shift, forcing the evacuation of the other half of the town.
Officials are highly concerned by the presence of anhydrous ammonia, a gas with noxious fumes that is used a fertilizer. The gas can cause severe burns and high exposure can lead to death. The Dallas Morning News reported that the West Fertilizer Co. said it had 54,000 pounds of it.
"This is horrible, my heart is broken," said McCobb, "Like we needed another reason to not use chemical fertilizers. What most people don't know, or forget, is the fact that the nitrogen we use for fertilizer was used first to make bombs in world war II. After the war, the chemical fertilizer industry exploded with all of the plants that were made to manufacture bombs, plus they had to do something with all the excess leftover. Bottom line: the nitrogen we use in agriculture is the same stuff that we use to make bombs and is very dangerous. It is rather ironic, but wrong that we use something so deadly to grow something to help us live."
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.