Exploding the myth of over-regulated industry
By now you've heard about the horrible explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas. We don't know what caused it yet, but deliberate sabotage is rarely the cause of these things. It's a pretty safe guess it had to do with shoddy plant maintenance and/or cheating on safety practices. Not that the company will ever admit to it. In fact, they assured the people of West, this couldn't possibly happen.
The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night in West, Texas, reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show. [...]The company claims to have "implemented proper safety rules," but who know if that's true. The plant hasn't been inspected in the last five years. And chances are if it hadn't blown up, it might never be inspected for decades:
[T]he report, reviewed Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated “no” under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.
The second worst possibility projected was a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, again causing no injuries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is chronically understaffed, which means that a given plant like West Fertilizer can only expect to get a state inspection once every 67 years on average.And of course, under the sequester cuts OSHA's funding will be slashed further. OSHA is one of the cons favorite punching bags. They love to talk about the stupid safety rules that interfere with the free market and corporate profits. We should just trust Big Business to police itself, because we can't afford to keep spending tax dollars to make sure they're not cutting corners on safety measures that might result in killing people. Besides, they need that money to pay off the politicians --er, I mean to create jobs -- you know.
Useful to remember when Republicans tell you they want to shrink government, they mean they are going to sell you out to the highest private bidder. [photo via Mother Jones]