Letter: Disaster safeguards lacking



The tragic explosion in the town of West, Texas, underscores a lesson that had been forgotten.

On April 16, 1947, a cargo ship loaded with 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded, destroying most of Texas City, Texas. The blast started a fire onboard another ship packed with the same material, which exploded as well. About 600 were killed or listed as missing, with 5,000 injured.

How is it possible that a similar disaster can happen near a populated area? In the same state, no less. A town erects a school and a nursing home next to a fertilizer factory, a virtual ammunition depot. Then history repeats itself.

I wish that politicians who are exploiting the Boston Marathon bombing for partisan gain would address this topic for a spell. Perhaps Congress could pass a law, even one that abolishes our right to build a nursing home next to a fertilizer factory (or an ammunition depot).

Yes, I know this would encroach upon our God-given liberty, and free market ideologues will vigorously denounce it, but does anyone have a better idea?

Gerald R. Johnson