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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March 2005, 14:33 GMT
Living in the shadow of disaster
A BP employee waits outside the Texas City oil refinery after Wednesday's explosion
Texas City people are no stranger to industrial accidents

Texas City - the home of several petrochemical and refining plants - is no stranger to disaster.

Residents there describe living with the constant fear of the next fatal accident.

"Welcome to life in Texas City," Marion Taylor told the Associated Press news agency shortly after the explosion.

"I was born here and ... it happens from time to time."

Judy Minter told the Houston Chronicle newspaper she lived with the threat of explosions like residents of other cities deal with the threat of natural disasters.

"It's like living in a place with a lot of hurricanes," she said. "You can't live in constant fear, but you are always aware."

Texas City mayor Matthew Doyle reflects the residents' pragmatic attitude.

After dealing with the immediate aftermath of the accident, he said the city would focus on getting back to normal.

"We're going to have the people that are left behind. They'll go back to work and start creating commerce and doing the things that we do in this city - fuelling the nation and the country and the world," he told the BBC World Service's World Today programme.

Disaster city

Texas City's history of disaster goes back to April 1947, when it was the scene of what media reports have been calling the country's worst industrial accident.

A ship full of ammonium nitrate, used in fertiliser, exploded in the harbour, killing at least 576 people.

Anytime you live by a plant like this, you've got to worry about this kind of situation. They don't happen very often, but when they do, the first thing you check is which way the wind is blowing
Herman Batist
Texas City resident

The blast left fires burning in the city for days.

The plant involved in Wednesday's accident has been fined for safety problems within the last year.

A year ago, it was evacuated after an explosion that cost the refinery $63,000 in fines for safety violations.

It was also fined more than $100,000 over the deaths of two workers who were burned by boiling water that escaped from a high-pressure pipe.

Herman Batist has lived very near the plant for over a decade.

"Anytime you live by a plant like this, you've got to worry about this kind of situation. They don't happen very often, but when they do, the first thing you check is which way the wind is blowing."

Mr Batist does not want to sell his house or move elsewhere.

"But anytime we have an accident like this, we really get to thinking," he told the Chronicle.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the rescue effort at the refinery




SEE ALSO
Inquiry into Texas oil plant fire
24 Mar 05 |  Americas
In pictures: Texas oil blast
24 Mar 05 |  In Pictures
Oil prices stable following blast
24 Mar 05 |  Business
Oil giant BP's global fortunes
14 Feb 05 |  Business

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