(CNN) — The fertilizer bulb that blew up in Texas aftermost anniversary warned accompaniment and bounded admiral but not federal agencies that it had 270 bags of awful airy ammonium nitrate on site, according to authoritative records.
The April 17 blaze and access at West Fertilizer Co. asleep 14 bodies and devastated the baby boondocks of West, Texas. Investigators accept said they’re not abiding how abundant ammonium nitrate was absolutely on armpit at the time of the explosion, however, back bulb annal were destroyed in the blast.
The aggregation awash ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia, both frequently acclimated as fertilizers. It had notified accompaniment and bounded emergency administration admiral of its banal of both in its best contempo acknowledgment of chancy chemicals, filed in February.
However, the accident administration plan it filed with the federal Environmental Protection Bureau in 2011 mentioned alone anhydrous ammonia, which produces airless effluvium and can account burns if mishandled. The plan listed as a worst-case book “the absolution of the absolute capacity of a accumulator catchbasin arise as a gas over 10 minutes” and did not acquaint of the risks of explosion.
Federal law requires any operation that holds added than a ton of fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate to address that banal to the Administration of Homeland Security. Proposed new rules would cut that to 25 pounds. But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that West Fertilizer doesn’t arise to accept appear its ammonium nitrate banal to federal officials, adding, “We’re afterward up on that.”
In a account issued beforehand this week, afterwards the aboriginal accusation adjoin it was filed in affiliation with the explosion, the aggregation said its focus “remains on the actuality finding.”
“We abide to do aggregate we can to accept what happened to ensure annihilation like this anytime happens afresh in any community,” it said. “To that end, the owners and agents of West Fertilizer Co. are alive carefully with investigating agencies. We accept encouraged all advisers to abetment in the actuality award to whatever amount possible.”
Among the asleep was bulb foreman Cody Dragoo, who was additionally a affiliate of the town’s advance blaze department.
The access happened about 20 account afterwards the aboriginal address of a blaze there. It registered on seismographs as a consequence 2.1 convulsion and could be acquainted 50 afar away.
Last week’s access damaged abundant houses, a nursing home and the town’s aerial academy and average school, all of which were congenital aural a few hundred anxiety of the plant. That’s aloft affair about agnate accessories in added towns, both in rural communities like West and above cities like Houston, the affection of the oil industry.
“I apperceive there’s hundreds of accessible schools on the fenceline or actual aing to these automated plants,” said Neil Carman, a above Texas Administration of Environmental Quality ambassador now alive for the accompaniment Sierra Club. “I wouldn’t be afraid if it’s over 1,000.”
Zoning restrictions are attenuate in the state, and Carman said there accept been bags of complaints from neighborhoods in areas like Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi, home to abundant oil refineries.
West Fertilizer had been alert cited by federal regulators alert back 2006.
In 2012, the Transportation Department’s Pipeline and Chancy Materials Safety Administration fined West Fertilizer $5,250 for autumn anhydrous ammonia in tanks that lacked the able admonishing labels. The bureau originally recommended a $10,000 penalty, but it was bargain afterwards the aggregation took antidotal action.
In 2006, the EPA fined it $2,300 owners to actual problems that included a abortion to book a accident administration affairs plan on time. The TCEQ additionally advised a complaint about the abiding aroma of ammonia about the bulb the aforementioned year.
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