According to the Associated Press, the recent explosion in the West Texas fertilizer plant was the first time that nearby residents became aware of the ticking time bomb in their midst. Many of the 2,800 residents of the West Texas town were unaware of the fact that they lived close to a fertilizer plant with such dangerous chemicals inside, and even first responders did not know what they were dealing with when the plant exploded.
Our Anderson injury attorneys know that there are other dangerous businesses located throughout the United States, including more than 60 other facilities that reported to state regulators that they have as much or more than the 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate that the West Texas Fertilizer Co. had stored in their facility. Unfortunately, the majority of people living near to these dangerous businesses are unaware of the fact that they are living within the “blast zone.”
Is Your Home Within a Blast Zone?
According to the Associated Press, there are hundreds of buildings throughout the United States that store dangerous chemicals within them. Unfortunately, fears of terrorism have made it very difficult or even impossible for nearby residents to be aware of the chemicals that are nearby their homes. Buildings nearby to these buildings housing dangerous chemicals can include not just homes but also schools, daycare centers and hospitals as well.
In fact, the AP indicated that a review of data from 28-states showed more than 120 facilities with dangerous chemicals had a potentially devastating blast zone that would encompass school children, the elderly and the infirm.
Unfortunately, records on many of the dangerous facilities in the United States are limited. The records often don’t exist or are “so shoddy” that rescuers would be unable to rely on them to save lives.
The absence of comprehensive records has made it a mystery exactly how many dangerous buildings there are throughout the United States. However, in states that did provide verifiable data, an analysis by AP reporters revealed that there are more than 600,000 people living within a quarter-mile of a potential blast zone if as little as 190 tons of ammonium nitrate are detonated. Since many facilities have much more ammonium nitrate than this, there are likely many more people at serious risk of being hurt if something goes wrong.
Many of the danger zones are described as being either poor or middle class neighborhoods. Residents living within them are unaware of the risks, especially as some of the buildings that house dangerous chemicals don’t even look like factories or industrial buildings.
Protecting Residents and First Responders
Clearly, the West Texas explosion shows that the current situation is an untenable one. First responders were badly harmed in West Texas because they were not aware of the chemicals in the plant that they were responding to, and residents who had their property destroyed were shocked to find out that they lived so close to a danger zone.
Facilities that house dangerous chemicals need to be carefully regulated and first responders need to be told where these facilities are so they know what they are dealing with if a fire occurs. Not only that, but people deserve to know if their home is in a blast zone that puts their families at risk. Businesses need to take responsibility for keeping records, making their plants safe and keeping the public informed as these businesses harboring dangerous chemicals could be liable for injuries they cause.
If you or someone you love was injured, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation with our North and South Carolina attorneys. Call 1-800-887-1965.
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Defective Vehicle Watch: Automakers in for Some Major Recalls, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 16, 2013.