Thursday, April 18, 2013

Better living through chemistry

April 16, 1947 :
Texas City, Texas





April 17, 2013:
West, Texas


Twice in 66 years, the fertilizer that helps put more and cheaper food on your table also has blown up much of a Texas town.

Ammonium nitrate and fire don't mix. Large quantities of flaming ammonium nitrate and commercial or residential areas mix catastrophically.

When I was a kid, DuPont's ad slogan was "Better Things for Better Living . . . Through Chemistry." That may well be true, but that "better living" comes at a cost that well-off advertising executives are at little risk of having to pay.

THAT deadly check, when it comes, usually gets picked up by working-class folks in places like Texas City. Or West. Or my hometown, Baton Rouge.

You don't want to know what would happen if the entire Exxon-Mobil refinery there blew. We just found out what happens when a fertilizer plant blows in a town like West.

Not that we'll stop to count the costs of progress, however. That's just not the American Way.

0 snappy rejoinders: