Following the horrific explosion in West, Texas, earlier this year, the Dallas Morning News wanted to find out how many serious chemical accidents had occurred in the United States. The newspaper combed through 750,000 federal records, only to learn that no single agency in the federal government has been keeping track of such disasters, and that whatever information agencies provide is likely to be 90% inaccurate.
“In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States,” Jon McClure, Daniel Lathrop and Matt Jacob reported for the Dallas Morning News. “And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information.”
The investigation did uncover at least two dozen industrial chemical accidents over a span of four years in Texas that resulted in deaths, injuries or evacuations. But the newspaper couldn’t be certain it had found all the accidents that took place during that time.