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Remembering Texas City

Joe Holley

Imagine an explosion so powerful it blows two light planes out of the sky, kills more than 500 people -- including a number of firefighters incinerated at the scene -- injured more than 7,000 others and destroyed 500 homes. All that happened on April 6, 1947, when the Grandcamp, a French Liberty ship loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, blew up while docked in the Gulf Coast port of Texas City, Tex. It's considered the worst industrial disaster in American history.The ammonium nitrate that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 weighed two tons; the ammonium nitrate aboard the Grandcamp weighed approximately 2,300 tons.

Texas City comes to mind because of an obit we'll be running shortly for a retired Justice Department lawyer who defended the government against claims growing out of the disaster, claims that totaled more than $200 million. In 1953, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-to-3 that the government was not liable under the Federal Claims Tort Act.

By Joe Holley  |  April 30, 2008; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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