"Presence of Explosive Chemicals Often Kept Secret"

"Fears of terrorism have made it harder than ever for citizens to find out what dangerous chemicals lurk in their backyards, The Associated Press has found. Secrecy and shoddy record-keeping have kept the public and emergency workers in the dark about stockpiles of explosive material."

"A monthlong reporting effort by the AP, drawing upon public records in 28 states, found more than 120 facilities within a potentially devastating blast zone of schoolchildren, the elderly and the sick. But how many others exist nationwide is a mystery, as other states refused to provide data.

 People living near these facilities who want to know what hazardous materials they store would also have to request the information from state environmental agencies or emergency management offices. County emergency management officials would also have it. The federal government does not have a central database, and while the Homeland Security Department has a list of ammonium nitrate facilities, it does not share it because of security concerns.

Until the local fertilizer company in West, Texas, blew up last month and demolished scores of homes, many in that town didn't know what chemicals were stored alongside the railroad tracks or how dangerous they were. Even some of the rescue workers didn't know what they were up against."

Jack Gillum, Dina Cappiello, and Ramit Plushnick-Masti report for the Associated Press May 30, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"EPA: Chemical At Center of West Blast Not 'Extremely Hazardous'" (WFAA-TV Dallas/Fort Worth: Brett Shipp)

"Pompeo Presses EPA on Chemicals After Texas Explosion" (Bloomberg)

"On Ammonium Nitrate, Big Coal Is Guilty, Too" (The Nation)

"Texas Blast Reveals the Holes in Chemical Oversight" (Bloomberg)

Editorial: "It Blows Up Entire Towns, But Let’S Not Go Overboard and Declare Ammonium Nitrate as Hazardous" (Dallas Morning News)

Source: AP, 05/31/2013