Right-to-Know

Report: Public still not safe from West-style industrial blasts

Much of West, Texas looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the fertilizer explosion two years ago. But steps to prevent further disasters aren't being taken.

Much of West, Texas looked like a post-apocalyptic wasteland after the fertilizer explosion. But steps to prevent further disasters aren’t being taken.

WACO, TX — ” The weaknesses in chemical safety oversight and preparedness that allowed the West Fertilizer Co. explosion to occur still pose a risk to the public in Texas and beyond, federal investigators say in a report they will present in Waco on Thursday.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. at the Waco Hilton on its 265-page report, which stems from a nearly three-year investigation.

CSB officials investigated the causes of the ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion on April 17, 2013, which killed 15 people, injured 260 and damaged 150 buildings, with an estimated $246 million in property loss. They also recommend significant reforms to the way ammonium nitrate dealers are regulated and insured.

‘This is one of the most destructive explosions we’ve ever investigated,’ said Johnnie Banks, the CSB’s lead investigator in the West case, in an interview Tuesday.

‘Our report found that the limited regulatory oversight, including the lack of real meaningful insurance, inadequate emergency planning and the proximity of the facility to so many homes — those really led to the incident’s severity.’”

— J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune

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