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1947 Texas City Disaster

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by

April DeLuca

on 27 May 2011

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Transcript of 1947 Texas City Disaster

1947 Texas City Disaster Texas City, Texas was home to 16,000 people, 2 chemical plants, 3 oil refineries, and oil tank farms in 1947 S.S. Grandcamp was anchored at North Slip of Pier O, already holding 16 cases of small arms ammunition. The Grandcamp was to pick up a load of ammonium nitrate fertlizer April 11th
1947 2300 tons of ammonium in cargo holds 2 and 4 April 16
8:00 a.m. Crews enter to load remainder of bags smoke + fIRE April 16
8:25 a.m. Alarms sound, fire engines arrive, attempts to put out fire fail Crews attempt to unload ammunition...only get 3 of 16 crates before forced to evacuate Captain orders steam forced into the cargo hold, trying to extinguish the fire without damaging cargo. Steam vapors liquified the ammonium nitrate forming volatile nitrous oxide Cargo hold reaches 850ºF Tanks in holds 3 and 4 rupture, leaking fuel oil

Crowds attracted by orange smoke, gather at pier THE FIRST EXPLOSION April 16
9:12 a.m. Ammonium nitrate detonates

Cargo launched 3,000 feet in air

Fireballs of ship fragments seen for miles

Shock felt 250 miles away

Knocked 2 planes out of the sky

Mushroom cloud 2,000 feet tall

15-foot wave destroyed pier and small boats

Nearby buildings flattened, doors and roofs blown off, windows shattered

Monsanto plant (300 feet away) and warehouses destroyed the Longhorn was launched out of the water 100 feet ashore

Flaming debris ignited giant tanks of oil and chemicals at refineries blast registered on seismograph in Denver

initial delay in relief effort THE SECOND EXPLOSION The High Flyer Adjacent to the Grandcamp, held 1,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in hold 3 and 2,000 tons of sulfur in holds 2 and 4

(ammonium nitrate is more sensitive when mixed with sulfur, a non-explosive combustible) force of blast ripped HiGH FLYER from its moorings,
lodged against the Wilson B. Keene,
Drifted toward remains of Grandcamp April 17th
1:10 a.m. The ammonium nitrate in the High Flyer explodes Aftermath -somewhere between 500-600 dead
-thousands wounded
- problems with numbers
-no operating hospital at time, used gyms and schools
-body-identifications continued through June, 371 of 433 found identified, 135 missing
- $600 million in property loss (in 1947 terms)
- 1/3 of the town's 1519 houses destroyed, 2000 homeless
-thousands of lawsuits
-memorial service for unidentified New Preventative Measures New standards for transporation and dispersal of ammonium nitrate:
requires cool temperatures, specialized containers, cannot be stored near other reactive substances
discouraged shipment over long distances
overseas transport restricted

Influenced disaster planning attitudes:
raised awareness for the need of a centrally-coordinated emergency response system
refineries initiated the Industrial Mutual Aid System (IMAS)

Began emergency management:
new legislation that would provide compensation to disaster victims
led to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) April 16th
8:00 p.m. Remaining crew sees smoke in lower decks April 16th
11:00 p.m. Tugboats arrive to move the ship from the docks, unsuccessful April 17th
1:00 a.m. Flames shooting from lower decks Cause of fire unknown

Poor reaction to disaster Prevention Storage Handling Fire Fighting Operations 1. Fireproof, sprinkler-equiped holds

2. Separate highly combustible commodities from each other as well as not so highly combustible commodities

3. Piles of ammonium nitrate in paper bags in storage should not exceed 10 bags (bags to meet the requirements of the Consolidated Freight Classification) high, 6 bags wide with 3 foot separation between piles and with handling aisles of 10 feet every 100 feet. 4. Ships holds must be clean before loading

5. Smoking or use of open lights must be strictly prohibited

6. Keep material clear of all steam lines and wiring 7. Any ship with hazardous material must notify the port facility and the chief of the fire department with details of the cargo

8. Use only water in large quantities (not steam) as an extinguishing agent

9. Cities in which large industrial operations are present should have a Disaster Plan NH4NO3 (s) → 2 H2O (g) + N2O (g) ammonium nitrate water vapor nitrous oxide
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