Final report on West Fertilizer Explosion released - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Final report on West Fertilizer Explosion released

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV
WEST, TX (KXXV) -

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board released its final report regarding the West fertilizer explosion on Monday citing gaps in safety practices, regulations and training.

The 2013 explosion claimed 15 lives, injured hundreds of people and caused extensive damage to homes, schools and other structures.  WFC filed for bankruptcy after the explosion.

“The WFC explosion is one of the most destructive incidents ever investigated by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation,” according to the report.

The CSB states that combustibles being stored near the fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate fueled the fire and likely resulted in the detonation.

In addition, the report findings claim emergency responders did not have enough training to make an informed decision on how to best respond to the fire at the fertilizer plant.

According to CSB, lessons from previous fertilizer fires elsewhere were not shared with volunteer fire departments, such as West. In addition, firefighters didn't do pre-incident planning or response training to fertilizer related incidents because there was no such regulatory requirement.

Insurance findings listed in the report mention, the insurer did not renew the West Fertilizer Company commercial property policy in 2010 because the company didn’t comply with the insurer’s safety recommendations.

In terms of regulatory findings, the CSB states the Occupational Safety and Health Administration omitted ammonium nitrate from the list of highly hazardous materials, toxics and reactives.

The board concludes there is still a risk to the public in Texas from a catastrophic incident. For instance, 19 facilities storing fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate are within 0.5 miles of a school, hospital or nursing home, according to the report. 

Law enforcement has not determined the cause of the fire that prompted the explosion.

The CSB will present its full report and recommendations at the Waco Hilton from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 28. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register by emailing their names and affiliations to meeting@csb.gov.

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