THE POINT BREEZE DISASTER.
LAST year about this time Bayonne, N. J., was visited with a destructive fire among the Standard Oil company’s tanks, and now a similar catastrophe, accompanied, unhappily, by terrible loss of life and a long list of injured (some fatally), is reported from Point Breeze, Philadelphia. In this case lightning struck one of the tanks and set it on fire, causing an explosion that ripped it open and sent the burning oil out in streams among the others, which contained gasolene, benzine, and other highly explosive fluids. The result was the burning and exploding of some eighteen or twenty tanks, the loss of several lives— among them five firemen—the destruction of apparently at least $500,000 worth of property, and the endangering, not only of the adjoining buildings, but also of the shipping from the streams of burning oil which were carried all round on the top of the water. It is time that some stringent legislation were passed and enforced which shall altogether put down this perpetual menace to the safety of the community on the part of a big trust. Such collections of tanks, if they must exist, should be assembled in some completely isolated district, far away from human habitation, and each tank should be built at some considerable distance from the other and surrounded by a dyke of earth faced with stone, with a ditch both in front and rear, to prevent the escape of the burning oil, in case of just such a condition of affairs as that which existed at Philadephia, with plenty of earth and sand nearby to throw upon the blazing oil and so extinguish it. Experience has long since proved that it is useless, even harmful to employ water for extinguishing puriwses, under such circumstances, as it has no effect upon the oil-flames, and serves only to distribute the fire round and spread it abroad all the farther. Lightning conductors should also be set up, close by, and set up on scientific principles—not too many of them, and these not erected at haphazard, but with a due regard to the amount of earth-surface each is supposed to protect. As it is, every metallic tank from its very nature serves to attract the lightning and bring about disasters such as are becoming only too frequent nowadays. The Standard Oil company will, of course, never think voluntarily of doing any of these things. The expenditure of money would be too great and would reduce its dividends too much for it to be guilty of making such a sacrifice. Considering, however, that its profits are so enormous, and that its directors are actually at a loss where to find new investments for their superfluous money, we do claim that it would not be too much if the demand were made that all we have suggested, and more too, for insuring the safety of life and property be at once set about by a corporation which is,perhaps,the most octopus-like of any except those controled by J. Pierpont Morgan—one which has done least for the public in return for the vast revenue it has derived from it. We trust,therefore, that the legislature of every State in which the Standard Oil company has any interests will enact such fitting legislation as shall hinder that corporation from dumping its plants down wherever it chooses, without the slightest consideration for the safety of the community, and, further, prohibit cities and towns from allowing it space within their corporate limits for heaping together in one place all the elements of a firstcloss conflagration. But, alas, when we remember how lavish such corporations can be with their money whenever legislation which concerns themselves is brought up in the legislature, especially if it is aimed against their treasuries and in favor of the mere public, and, also, when we recollect how easily the eyes of the legislators can be dazzled and blinded by the sight of bills of a high denomination judiciously flaunted before them by well trained lobbyists, we confess that we are not sanguine as to the law stepping in to better the existing evil conditions. It will require many more holocausts of the Point Breeze type, and the destruction of a much vaster amount of property before people are sufficiently aroused to take the matter into their own hands.