Dec 9, 2013
Texas Plant Had 270 Tons of Explosive Material, Was Not Being Monitored for Safety
Posted on Apr 21, 2013
The Department of Homeland Security requires fertilizer plants with at least 400 pounds of potentially explosive ammonium nitrate to report to it in order to trigger safety oversight. But the West, Texas, fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and obliterating a small town in the process, reportedly had more than 1,350 times that amount—roughly 270 tons, according to Reuters.
And the DHS apparently wasn’t even aware of the plant’s existence.
“It seems this manufacturer was willfully off the grid,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “This facility was known to have chemicals well above the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet we understand that DHS did not even know the plant existed until it blew up.”
Further calling into question the safety of the company—and fertilizer plants in general—The Associated Press reported that West Fertilizer didn’t have sprinklers, firewalls or a water deluge system, something it noted was “not unusual.”
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
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