With the President avoiding the topic at the memorial ceremony, and with the larger national media moving on (or not) to other topics, the deeper investigation of the West, Texas disaster is being left to bloggers, NGOs, regional papers and editorial cartoonists. Here’s a roundup of highlights so far:
- CPR notes the gaps in Texas worker safety programs and environmental oversight.
- The Houston Chronicle notes the gaps in federal chemical safety regulation. So does Bloomberg. Meanwhile, The Hill describes how industry is worried that new regulations could result.
- ThinkProgress notes the gaps in local regulatory oversight.
- Dallas News wonders why 2400 tons/year of explosive chemicals didn’t get anyone’s attention.
- Huffington Post notes the long history of nothing happening at the facility.
- The Center for Public Integrity describes the “retail exemption” that helped that West, Texas facility (and uncounted others like it) avoid inspections and regulations in the name of “streamlining.”
UPDATE 5/5: More highlights:
- AP reports that over the years the plant was a target for burglars looking for meth-manufacturing chemicals.
- Dallas News reports that the fertilizer plant was insured for a million dollars. Only a million dollars. Property damage alone may reach $100 million.
- Dallas News takes a comprehensive look. “Investigators have provided few answers about what triggered the April 17 fire and subsequent explosion of what was apparently ammonium nitrate fertilizer. There is little mystery, however, about what happened before the fire: The system broke down. From Washington to West, little coordination or communication took place. At every stage, elements of the system missed opportunities to inspect, audit or even talk.”