Oct 6, 2017

Posted by | 0 Comments

Curious about plant explosions

There was an explosion across town yesterday. I couldn’t see much from work or home, and the cops had the streets blocked nearby, but there was a massive plume of smoke on that side of town. All I heard when it happened was a little pop sound like a faraway firework. I barely noticed, maybe I’m even making it up after the fact just to feel like I was a part of it.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about explosions at plants around the area. The explosion was at a plant, by the way. How often do they occur?

I did a little searching, and other than yesterday’s accident, I don’t see much about explosions in this area recently. Maybe they really are rare? I was about to just assume they never happen at all, but then I noticed some lawyer websites account for explosions that seem to be a lot more frequent.

So which is it?

It seems like the big explosions make headlines. That fertilizer plant in West, Texas was a big deal a few years back. And obviously, when explosions occur at nuclear facilities, they are international news. But the smaller stuff doesn’t seem to make much of an impact.

I did learn, though, in my research, that many of the explosions that do occur are due to improper maintenance issues: machinery that isn’t maintained or hasn’t been fixed when it’s malfunctioning; corrosion that hasn’t been fixed in a timely manner; chemicals that haven’t been disposed of in the proper way.

That last point somewhat fits the other major cause of explosions: human error. Apparently, quite a few accidents happen just because people smoke cigarettes in the wrong place. Then there are people who don’t do their jobs right either from recklessness or from a lack of training. There are issues with supervisors not making sure everyone complies with federal guidelines.

Looking at that list, it’s amazing we don’t have more explosions, and bigger ones like the one yesterday. I’ve actually done the opposite of what I wanted with this research. I was hoping to ease any worries I might have had about chemicals in the air and the constant threat of explosions, and yet, here I am, now worried that somebody might toss a cigarette butt in the wrong corner and blow the whole town away. Or else, someone’s going to drive a forklift into a massive vat of “chemicals” (in my head, they are always neon-green and bubbling like in the movies) which will then…I don’t know, either make ninja turtles or kill us all.

Now I’ve gotten myself worked up, I think I’ll get out of here and take a walk. I’ll head out of town and find a nice park. Preferably one very far from any chemical plants.

Read More