According to a recent editorial in the Dallas Morning News, West residents were clueless about the extreme dangers they were living next to until an April 17 explosion killed 15 and devastated a 35-block area. This was not an accident this information was never shared, but on purpose. A little-known section of Texas law allows agencies to withhold information they regard as confidential concerning the handling, storage and transportation of extremely hazardous chemicals. Not only can state agencies claim the right under the law to ensure that the public remains in the dark, they can assert the right to not even explain why they will not release data.
On Wednesday evening, at least 15 people were killed and more than 160 others were injured after a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant in West, Texas. Volunteer firefighters had been battling a fire at the plant for approximately 20 minutes before the blast occurred. According to reports, the explosion was so powerful that it registered as a 2.1-magnitude earthquake with the United States Geological Survey, and the massive plume of smoke could be seen up to 45 miles away. Officials said that the blast destroyed between 60 and 80 homes in the five-block radius around the plant. Nearly half of the town's 2,800 residents have been evacuated, including 133 patients from a nearby nursing home.