Okay, what do you have to blow up to get in “real” trouble? Apparently, a lot. Maybe, it’s time that the “our” Congress set up a new set of penalties for blowing up stuff?
Business ethics cannot rely on word of mouth for enforcement. Some things are criminal wrongs that are punishable by jail time and fines.
What is the message when fifteen people are dead along with enormous property damage, and the proposed penalty is a little under $120,000? Isn’t the implication that breaking the rules is a matter of paying negligible costs?
Tiny fines are one way of making business ethics a topic of derision. There have to be penalties that hurt for law to be effective in its goals.
Fertilizer Plant That Exploded In West, Texas Faces $118,300 In Fines | ThinkProgress
West Fertilizer Co., the plant that exploded in April, killing 15 people, is facing federal fines totaling $118,300 for two dozen serious safety violations that include its lack of an emergency response plan, the Associated Press reports.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), violations include unsafe handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, inadequately labeled storage tanks, failure to pressure-test replacement hoses, and the lack of respiratory protection or appropriate fire extinguishers.
West Fertilizer Co. has 15 days to either pay the fine or file an administrative appeal, so the penalties could be reduced. A company spokesman said its lawyers are reviewing the citations and proposed fine.
From around the web.
From the web site,
In a 2002 study, the CSB called on OSHA and the EPA to expand their standards to include reactive chemicals and hazards, but to date neither agency has acted on the recommendations. During the Senate hearing, Chairman Moure-Eraso said, “Ammonium nitrate would likely have been included, if the EPA had adopted our 2002 recommendation to cover reactive chemicals under its Risk Management Program. And OSHA has not focused extensively on ammonium nitrate storage and hadn’t inspected West since 1985.”
The safety message goes on to describe other serious reactive chemical accidents investigated by the CSB since its 2002 study. These include a December 19, 2007, explosion and fire at T2 Laboratories in Jacksonville, Florida; a January 31, 2006, explosion at the Synthron chemical manufacturing facility in Morganton, North Carolina; and an April 12, 2004, toxic release at MFG Chemical in Dalton, Georgia.
- West, Texas Fertilizer Plant fined $118,000 by OSHA for explosion that killed 15 and injured 160 (thoughtsandrantings.com)