In Mon Valley Steel Towns, Shrunken Communities And An Increase Of Crime

Jul 8, 2014
Holly Tonini / Point Park News Service

The roads into Donora were built for traffic.

The four lanes of state Route 837 meet the Monessen Bridge that once carried bustling amounts of both foot and automobile traffic. But now, not many people have reason to come to this town 30 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh, says resident Edith Jericho, surrounded by the relics of the Donora Smog Museum.

Martha Rial / PublicSource

After 30 tons of fertilizer detonated in West, Texas last April, investigators are looking into the cause of the explosion that killed fifteen people, including twelve firefighters and emergency responders.  PublicSource reporter Bill Heltzel has been investigating chemical plant Dyno Nobel in Donora, PA, and gauging the town’s understanding of hazardous substance safety.  United Steel Workers safety officer Kim Nibarger represents union workers at the plant.

Explosives Maker In PA Has 400 Times More Ammonia Than West, Texas, Plant

Jul 21, 2013
Martha Rial

On April 17, when 30 tons of fertilizer detonated in West, Texas, a shock wave traveling faster than the speed of sound crushed homes. Windows shattered seven miles away. The United States Geological Survey recorded a 2.1 magnitude tremor from the blast.
Fifteen people died, 12 of them firefighters and emergency responders, and 200 were injured.

The same chemical that blew up West — ammonium nitrate — is manufactured in Donora, Pa., 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.