In the wake of the West fertilizer plant explosion earlier this year, there were a lot of questions about how the facility was able to slip through the regulatory cracks while storing enough ammonium nitrate to make the small Texas town look like a crater on the moon.
There was a lot of outrage and general consensus that people ought to be able to know when large amounts of ammonium nitrate are nearby.
The public demanded and now the State Fire Marshal's Office has complied. Sort of.
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That office debuted a new Web site that allows a person to type in a ZIP code and find out if there's any ammonium nitrate in that specific area, as long as there's 10,000 pounds (five tons) of the stuff. The trick being that if there's a company storing 10,000 pounds or less, it won't show up on the database.
The Fire Marshal's Office has found 110 facilities in 71 counties so far, according to these standards (and isn't releasing info on which specific facilities actually have the stuff, because of safety and the propensity crazy people have for trying to blow extremely blow-up-able stuff up).
So this Web site is comforting, but Hair Balls feels like there's a bit of a gaping loophole built into this new setup (which was organized according to the recommendations of the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee). Fun fact: We checked it out and are reasonably, somewhat sure that there is not more than 10,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate in our ZIP code. So comforting.