Many Americans unknowingly live near buildings that store hazardous chemicals as dangerous as the ammonium nitrate at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant that blew up in April and destroyed nearby homes and businesses.

By now, Americans across the country have heard about the explosion that killed 35 people, including 10 first-responders.

As the Associated Press reported, firefighters fighting the initial fire at the facility had no idea that the liquid ammonia tanks they were hosing down actually contained a few tons of ammonium nitrate that would explode with the force of a small earthquake.

After the tragedy, the AP sought to compile public records on hazardous chemicals stored across the country. The news organization found that more than 120 facilities store hazardous chemicals within a potentially devastating blast zone of schoolchildren, the elderly and the infirm.

In the states that provided verifiable data, the AP analysis found more than 600,000 people to be living within a quarter-mile of a facility, a potential blast zone. More send their children to school or have family in hospitals in those blast zones. More often than not, census data show, the danger zones are middle-class or poor neighborhoods.

And that’s in states where officials made the information available. More than a half-dozen  states, including South Carolina, refuse to provide such information, citing the risk of terrorist attacks and their interpretations of federal law.

Right to Know

Residents and emergency responders deserve to be well informed about such hazards.

If you are hurt in an accident caused by hazardous materials, our South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Joye Law Firm are prepared to answer any questions and explain your legal options. Call 888-594-7738 or use our online contact form so we can discuss your possible right to compensation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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