West Mayor applauds Chemical Safety Board findings

Posted at 7:59 PM, Aug 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-22 10:49:18-04

The Chemical Safety Board gives suggested regulations for the storage of ammonium nitrate.

After their own investigation, the CSB sent out a safety message Tuesday talking about the importance of improving safety for ammonium nitrate facilities. The message says the storage of ammonium nitrate falls under a patchwork of U.S. standards and guidance. Those do not prohibit the use of wooden storage bins and buildings and a lack of sprinkler systems. Both of those were the case in West.

"I think if you had those two things during West or around the country I think you'd mitigate any type of explosion," West mayor Tommy Muska said. "It's common sense that can be used in that industry to lesson the risk of this happening."

Muska says if the fertilizer plant had a sprinkler system, it could have reduced the fire enough to have possibly been stopped before the ammonium nitrate exploded. So that's why he says he applauds CSB for sending out this message.

"I wouldn't want anybody to go through what this town has gone through and if they can be fixed, it needs to be fixed," Muska said.

The video references several other chemical explosions in the 2000's, and Muska talked about another one in Texas decades ago.

"You'd think the government would've learned back in the 60's what ammonium nitrate can do and yet we're still talking about it today."

In a 2002 CSB study, CSB says they called on OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Association, and the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, to expand their standards to include reactive chemicals and hazards. CSB says neither agency has acted on those recommendations.

"Their recommendation is exactly what I would recommend, I'm not a professional in any manner but I do know something has to be regulated to a point of this doesn't happen again," Muska said.

The video also shows a clip of four cell phones showing the April 17th explosion. Later on, it shows aerial footage of what the fertilizer plant looked like before the explosion.

You can watch CSB's safety message video here.