POSTED: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 5:48pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 5:49pm
In an eerie bit of coincidence, this same kind of disaster has happened before here in Texas.
It was 66 years ago Tuesday.
The worst industrial accident in the nation’s history leveled another Texas town, and the cause was the same as last night’s blast in West, Texas.
To be more precise, burning ammonium nitrate which doesn’t need oxygen to burn.
Texas City is an industrial town between Houston and Galveston in Interstate 45.
It is essentially a huge petro-chemical complex with a mayor. The plant is basically the city.
It is also the 87th most important deep water port in the world today.
A French Freighter the Grandcamp, which was an old World War II Liberty Ship, was tied up at the dock on the ship channel taking on 2,300 tone of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, used in both fertilizer and explosives.
Another ship, the High Flyer was also loaded with the same cargo.
A fare started around 8am and by 9am, was beyond the ability of the crew to put out.
The ship’s hull was bulging and the water around it boiling, as local firefighters tried to douse the flames.
At 9:12, the world seemed to end as the ship exploded. A 15-foot wave was sent through the water that was still detectable 100-miles offshore.
1000 buildings nearby were leveled. The Monsanto plant nearby caught fire, and that set off oil and chemical storage tanks in the area. Two airplanes in the area had their wings shorn off and crashed. Peo;ple were knocked off their feet in Galveston and windows shattered in Houston. The explosion was detected in Louisiana, 100 miles away.
The ship’s anchor was hurled across the city and when the SS High Flyer blew, it’s propeller landed a mile away.
In all, 567 people were killed and the damaged totaled over $1-billion in today’s dollars.
It also resulted in the nation’s first class action lawsuit.
$17-million in awards were granted, the last one being paid in 1957.