Monday, January 20, 2014

At Least Two Dead in Omaha Plant Explosion

Omaha World-Herald:
 Two people have been confirmed dead after an industrial accident at International Nutrition, according to the office of Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who oversees the county coroner.
The names of the two victims have not been released.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Interim Fire Chief Bernard Kanger confirmed that there are fatalities. He declined to release information about how many people died until a full search of the building can be completed.
Kanger said 10 people had been transported to area hospitals – four were in critical condition and six had injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Seven more people declined medical attention for their injuries, he said. Thirty-eight people were working at the plant.
Authorities had not yet cleared the south-central Omaha building at 7706 I Plaza, Kanger said around 3:10 p.m. Teams must secure the building to prevent further collapse before finishing their search, he said.
There's no chance that anyone lost in the rubble is still alive, he said. By midafternoon, the search shifted from a rescue to a recovery effort. Officials planned to spend the evening for the bodies, Kanger said......It is not yet known if there was an explosion at the plant, Kanger said.
I'll be curious to see what caused the explosion or collapse.  I know some accidents are going to happen, and that our instant access to news makes these type of events seem more plentiful than they used to be, even though that most likely isn't actually true, but it sure seems like there have been a lot of industrial accidents in the news recently.  I can't shake the idea that poorly funded regulatory agencies and abject lack of capital spending in plant infrastructure might be to blame for this situation.

If I had to guess, I would say that more people have been killed since 2002 in the United States in industrial accidents than have been killed by foreign terrorists.  Yet, the NSA is keeping records (for some unknown reason) of every text I send to the girl I have a crush on, even though a giant chemical tank sitting a mile upstream of the water supply for 300,000 people hasn't been inspected by government officials since I was in fucking high school.  A fertilizer plant in BFE, Texas doesn't have to follow the model fire code (actually the state of Texas forbids most counties from establishing fire codes) when storing enough high explosive to wipe out a good portion of the surrounding town, but we've got to take off our shoes and get our junk scanned before getting on an airplane to make sure nobody is going to explode their Chuck Taylors or set their balls on fire to take down the plane.  Maybe it's just me, but why are we so concerned about poor-ass brown people living in tents and herding goats halfway around the world, and so unconcerned about the damn rich fuckers with four homes in Aspen jetting around the world and paying $142 million for a single work of art with money they skimmed from consumers, pocketed instead of investing in safety measures or capital spending on basic industrial infrastructure, or garnered from straight up fraud?  We 've got a shitball, majorly under-invested railroad leaving a freight train loaded with very explosive crude oil unattended on a hill above a town, which ends up rolling down said hill, derailing and blowing up the central business district of the town and killing 47 people (after one of the unattended locomotive engines, which were still running to keep the air brakes operational, caught fire and was extinguished by the local fire department) while cops at Ohio State and in Murfreesboro, Tennessee are getting mine-resistant vehicles to do God knows what (oh yeah, Murfreesboro is where some Muslims were trying to build a mosque to use their first amendment right to exercise religious freedom, but have been prevented from doing so by bigots and morons).  I just don't understand what the hell is going on, but I think I know who is getting rich and who is getting blown to kingdom come.  It may be time for common folks to invest in pitchforks and torches, but I'm not sure what good they'll do when confronted with MRAPs and drones.  Of course, considering what happened in our foreign adventures over in goatherd land, the folks with the most to lose might want to look into better security at the fertilizer plants that have piles of ammonium nitrate sitting around in the middle of fucking nowhere (or more logically, ban the manufacturing of it, since a business model based on selling tons of the stuff to every hick with a piece of land makes tighter security at the plant seem like a bit of a waste of time, like taking a full body scan of grandma at the airport) .  You can fuck over the rubes for a while, but eventually they are going to figure things out. 


  1. I keep thinking that we must be reaching some kind of tipping point - enough fatalities and we'll start rejecting the anti-regulatory bullshit. But the assholes who profit from toothless or non-existent regulation can also throw unlimited cash into the political process (fuck you very much, John "Taney" Roberts court.) I was going to say maybe another Triangle Shirtwaist might do it, but so far the obliteration of a chunk of West, Texas and 300,000 people in W. V. without drinking water don't seem to have done it.
    Maybe its time to park some guillotines on Wall Street. Maybe they will get that message.

  2. It'll be interesting to see, if the plant owners in NE will face any sort of prosecution. The owners in West, Texas were let off the hook because as Texas has no laws regulating their fertilizer operations, they did not do anything legally wrong.

    I'm not too hopeful on public outrage. The rich have bought the system via their control of the media. People's minds are not going t change. And the same things will keep happening.

    11 people died on the BP oil rig disaster, but that gets downplayed in the media.

    Industrial fatalities are the price of freedumb, I guess.