Careless On Refinery Row?

One witness likened the enormous ball of fire to a nuclear explosion. A truck driver thought it looked as if "a rocket just took off." Shortly before midnight on the day after the Fourth of July, a devastating explosion leveled a block-square section of the 564-acre Atlantic Richfield chemical plant in Channelview, Texas, east of Houston. At least 17 workers died. The blast occurred while crews were working near tanks that hold petrochemical residues and waste water from the plant.

The ARCO disaster would be disturbing enough on its own, but it was just the latest incident in a string of...

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