Even after many Americans proved their ignorance by their laughably-sad insults against Czechs in response to the Boston Marathon bombings (Chechnya, the country where the bombers had connections, is about 2,000 miles away from the Czech Republic), the Czechs were magnanimous enough to donate $200,000 to the town of West, Texas, after the explosion at the fertilizer plant in April. A few days after the explosion, the Czech Ambassador Petr Gandalovič visited West, which was settled by Czech immigrants in the 1900s and visibly celebrated their heritage in many of their businesses and community. The news story buried in the back pages about the Czechs’ generosity shows that family ties allow much to be forgiven.
As we create new family ties in the US, let’s keep our families safe. The West explosion, which killed 15 people and hurt more than 200, could have been avoided. Seven agencies could have regulated the plant: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service. The last inspection was conducted by OSHA in 1985. The inspection showed no flammable chemicals. No matter where we’re from, Americans can do something to make sure avoidable catastrophes are exactly that – avoided.