Without Warning System, Communities Blind to Toxic Disaster

July 29, 2009

Here's the top of a July 26 story by McClatchy's John Monk about an ammonia spill that killed one in South Carolina. Similar stories could be told in other states across the U.S.

"COLUMBIA -- Robert Davis, still shaken by almost being killed by the huge cloud of poison mist from the ammonia facility across from his house, had one thing to say.

'They ought to have a warning siren or something,' said Davis, 47, who saw a hazy toxic cloud headed across a field toward him on the morning of July 15 near Swansea. He was saved in part because the wind shifted and sent the mist in another direction.
 
Davis lives across from Tanner Industries, a major storer and distributor of anhydrous ammonia, a poisonous gas used in industry and as a fertilizer component that can easily kill or injure people.
 
The plant's July 15 toxic gas leak that killed a passing motorist was the state's worst toxic accident since the 2005 chlorine gas spill from a train in Graniteville killed nine.
 
In South Carolina, no laws require companies that store large amounts of poison gas or toxic chemicals to issue fast public warnings to neighbors if danger is imminent, officials said."