The Texas City Disaster

Course Number: ED-2001
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: James S. Bluma, P.E.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In The Texas City Disaster, you'll learn ...

  • Details surrounding a cargo ship explosion in Texas City, Texas in April, 1947
  • The complex series of chemical reactions that occur as ammonium nitrate is exposed to increasing temperatures under a fire condition that cause it to become so dangerous and unpredictable under these conditions
  • That contamination of ammonium nitrate by even trace amounts of certain types of other substances can entirely alter its explosive characteristics
  • How failure to learn from and act upon lessons learned from past catastrophic events can continue to have dire consequences for decades to come.

Overview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

On April 16, 1947 a cargo ship in the port of Texas City, Texas was being loaded with thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer destined for war torn regions of Europe and Asia when it caught fire and exploded. This explosion registered as one of the largest non-nuclear, man - made events in history and caused the immediate death of nearly 600 persons and severe injury to several thousand more.

The un-controllable fires and effects of the concussion from this first explosion caused a fire and resultant explosion on a second freighter in port with a similar cargo approximately 16 hours later. This multiple day incident with its two major explosions, high loss of life and severe injury remains the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history.

This course will examine events leading to the first explosion, false information given by engineers to port operators regarding ammonium nitrate safety and a fire fighting decision made by a ship’s Captain that made the disaster inevitable. In addition to a detailed study of the tragedy itself, we will also cover the makeup and properties that cause ammonium nitrate to become so extremely unpredictable and dangerous in a fire situation. We will conclude with a summary of the 2013, West, Texas fertilizer storage facility explosion in which ammonium nitrate was also involved and, tragically took the lives of most first responders and several citizens.

 

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • How ammonium nitrate is made and why it is generally safe until a combination of conditions is met making it highly detonate-able and explosive
  • The importance of having a worst-case scenario disaster relief and response plan in cities and communities in which potentially hazardous industrial activities take place
  • Why it is essential that land use and zoning be re-considered when city growth would otherwise eliminate safe distance separation from hazardous activities
  • How seemingly minor changes in the labeling and packaging of potentially hazardous chemicals can have catastrophic results
  • The importance of mandatory training on the nature and reactivity of potentially hazardous substances for all individuals in decision making positions that deal with such substances

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 15 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

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