Fertilizer Stored in West, Texas Plant: West Fertilizer Stored Tons of Explosive Material Without Reporting
We may be closer to getting to the bottom of the cause of the explosions that rocked the small town of West, Texas last Wednesday night, killing 14 people, injuring nearly 200, and damaging dozens of homes.
It turns out that West Fertilizer had as of last year been storing roughly 1350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that is supposed to be reported to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But nothing was reported. According to federal regulations, fertilizer plants are required to report to the DHS when they are storing more than 400 pounds of the substance. Yet, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the company was storing 270 tons of it, at least as of last year. The state agency didn’t share that fact with DHS.
Many of the details emerging about this accident are eerily similar to another Texas industrial disaster that happened back on April 16, 1947, when a French ship, the SS Grandcamp, caught fire as it was docked at the Port of Texas City. The similarity comes with the fact that the ship was carrying ammonium nitrate. The fire caused 2,300 tons of the fertilizer to detonate, destroying about 1,000 buildings and all of the city’s firefighting equipment, which caused problems when the fire caused second ship carrying ammonium nitrate to explode and left the city helpless. In all, that industrial accident killed 576 people. It is still the worst industrial accident in U.S. history.
The reason DHS is supposed to know about stockpiles of ammonium nitrate is because it is an extremely explosive chemical. Not only was it used for bomb making during World War II, but it was the explosive material of choice for Timothy McVeigh when he filled a truck with it and leveled the Murrah Building on April 19, 1995.
The people of Texas should demand that companies operating in this state be operating safely within the law. It is too soon to tell the background and basis for these assertions but the public deserves a complete explanation. As West, Texas cleans up, injured people are treated, and families grieve their losses, authorities must act to hold people accountable to this terrible tragedy. If you have questions about your individual legal rights, Hill Law Firm is here to discuss your legal options. Call today!