#Victims In Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion May Still Have To Pay Property Taxes

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Victims In Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion May Still Have To Pay Property Taxes
By Aviva Shen posted from ThinkProgress Economy on May 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm
(Credit: Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune) West, Texas continues to be rocked by the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion last month. Victims are now discovering they may still have to pay property taxes on their destroyed homes. While these homeowners can file protests until the end of May, the law requires property values to be determined on January 1 of the tax year. Local governments are allowed to reappraise homes after natural disasters, but the fertilizer plant explosion was very much a man-made calamity.
Even the mayor, Tommy Muska, has filed to protest the property value of his home, which is so badly damaged from the blast that it may cost $300,000 to repair. However, the mayor noted, granting victims relief is a ?double-edged sword,? as the town will flounder from the millions of lost tax dollars. The magnitude of the explosion, which claimed 15 lives and injured 160 others, also devastated a huge chunk of West?s much- needed revenue for many years to come:
Hahn estimated that West lost at least $29 million in taxable value as a result of the blast, not counting damage to nontaxable property such as schools, water tanks and infrastructure.
That amount represents more than one-fifth of West?s tax base of $140.4 million, according to preliminary values. Hahn said losing that much revenue this year would hobble the finances of the city and West Independent School District when they need the money the most.
Whatever the appraisal district decides, either the victims or the town will take a debilitating hit. Victims cannot count on West Fertilizer Co. for compensation, either. The plant was only insured for $1 million of damages, a negligible sum that does not even begin to cover the actual losses. Property damage alone is projected to reach $100 million. Even so, the company was not required to carry any liability insurance at all. Many states, including Texas, do not impose any legal requirements for companies to have liability insurance. This latest revelation is just one of the myriad regulatory failures that led to the deadly explosion.
On Friday, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers launched a criminal investigation into the explosion. Some victims are also pursuing civil lawsuits against the company.
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And yet you think MORE govt bureaucracy is gonna make life 'better' somehow ? :-)
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> And yet you think MORE govt bureaucracy >is gonna make life 'better' somehow? :-)
The town of West, Texas didn't even have a fire code.
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On Sun, 12 May 2013 07:44:15 -0700, Transition Zone wrote:

And Texas didn't have any regulations limiting explosives, and the plant hadn't had a real inspection since 1985, despite numerous complaints.
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And there should never been a building permit issued for lots within a mile of the place.
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On 5/12/2013 1:55 PM, emoneyjoe wrote:

The town has been in existence for more than 100 years. The fertilizer plant was built there in 1962, so as usual you have it backwards.
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wrote:

It is pretty easy to tell which buildings were built since 1962.
Even if the apartment row had been built with the end toward the plant it would have meant less damage.
Chances are the plant started out small and additions made when business warranted, the possible problems are created a little at a time.
I know of a place where at least one 30 foot dumpster full of fertilizer was stored in an old garage right in the center of town. New rules make things safer, but some things are grand fathered.
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On 5/12/2013 10:19 PM, emoneyjoe wrote:

Oh yeah right, people erecting buildings should plan for a giant explosion in the near vicinity.

Chances are you don't know wtf you are talking about, you addled old fool.

Wow that is so interesting. In this case it was more than 200 tons of ammonium nitrate and 55 tons of anhydrous ammonia.

Texas is run by the Republican party and they suck. It is basically their fault that this happened. Probably will happen again.
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wrote:

Fertilizer plants, grain elevators, fireworks factories, and a lot of other place explode often.

I've been up and down I-35 a couple of times.

And nobody anticipate a possible problem?

Sure, it was politics that caused the explosion, I see now, lefty.
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Cite cases in the US.
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On Mon, 13 May 2013 18:54:44 -0400, "Scout"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_explosion
<https://www.google.com/search?q=grain+silo+explode&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs O&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=T3aRUZ7jBoGFiALjuIBo&ved EAQsAQ&biw80&bih7>
About the only "common" explosions in North America are grain elevators...and they dont often blow up these days. Surprisingly seldom in fact.
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wrote:

<https://www.google.com/search?q=grain+silo+explode&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs O&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=T3aRUZ7jBoGFiALjuIBo&ved EAQsAQ&biw80&bih7>

According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service,
An average of 10.6 agricultural grain dust explosions are reported per year in the U.S. resulting in 1.6 deaths.
It ain't like the 70's, when they we popping off every couple of weeks, but I wouldn't call it seldom.
Paul K. Dickman
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wrote:

And yet you can't produce data to support the claim of often.
even if we accept the 10.6 and 1.6 deaths.... that still doesn't count as often or dangerous. More people are hit and killed by lightening in 2 weeks than occur annually in grain dust explosions...yet we don't see nearly as much concern from you about them.
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wrote:

I wasn't disputing the meaning of "often", I was disputing the notion of "seldom".
However, your metric of lightning deaths is somewhat flawed.
The possibility of being killed by lightning is roughly equal over every square mile of the US, while grain dust explosion fatalities are limited to the blast radius.
According to the USDA by the mid '90s there were only 10,717 grain elevators and another 2079 feed and flour mills left. http://www.epa.gov/ttnchie1/ap42/ch09/bgdocs/b9s0909-1.pdf
Being generous we round that up to 15,000. If the lethal zone of the blast is 1/4 sq mile (300 yard radius) then in the 3750 sq mile area where the probability of a fatal dust explosion occurred, 1.6 people died from a blast. In the same 3750 sq miles, .035 people died of lightning strikes. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/hazstats.shtml (US 10 year average Lightening Fatalities, 35) US area, 3,794,101 sq mi.
So, yes. In the areas where it can happen, it happens 45 times as often as lightning fatalities.
Are they dangerous? 10.6 explosions, 1.6 fatalities. A mortality rate of 15% http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2604/ According to NOAA there are an average of 22,849,146 cloud to ground lightning flashes in the US each year and an average of 35 fatalities.A mortality rate of .000153%. So, yes. They are 98,000 times more dangerous than lightning strikes.
10.6 doesn't seem like a big number. But the chances that you will be run over by a 1952 Kaiser Fraser Manhattan are much lower than being run over by 2006 Ford Explorer.
That doesn't mean the Kaiser is a safer car, it just means that there are fewer of them on the road.
Paul K. Dickman
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wrote:

Actually, no, the possibility of being struck and killed by lightning is NOT roughly equal over every square mile of the US. Compare the rate in Florida, for example, to the US average. The possibly of a lightning strike even hitting someone is different in Utah than in Texas or Arizona.

Which means that the liklihood of occurance is different depending on the conditions. ;)
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n
Kind of depends on what " roughly equal " means. There is some chance of being struck by lightning over every square mile of the U.S. Unlike the chance of being hurt by a grain elevator explosion. But there is a big difference in the odds between Florida and Washington State. So you are both right or wrong 8-).
Dan
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