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Locals and Lawmakers Talk Safety After Texas Plant Explosion

April 23, 2013 — Last week, a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas killed 14 people and injured 200 others. The tragedy has led many to question why a fertilizing plant containing up to 270 tons of highly-explosive ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia was allowed so close to schools, churches, houses, a nursing home, and businesses.

Reporters have flocked to the town of West to cover the story. Interviews indicate that many residents believe the disaster was an accident, and they don’t blame the owner of the plant, Donald Adair, a lifelong resident of West. Citing the pending investigation, Mr. Adair has declined interviews. However, he issued a statement, saying: “My heart is broken with grief for the tragic losses to so many families in our community.”

The investigation is likely to take quite some time. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, an organization that was created by Congress in the 1990s, operates with 20 employees and a $10.5 million dollar budget. However, previous investigations of explosions have taken several years, according to a Mother Jones report that cited a three-year investigation of the Tesoro oil refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, which killed seven people.

In the meantime, many critics of Texas zoning regulations and some lawmakers have voiced concerns about the safety regulations on high-risk facilities. Reporters with the National Journal interviewed a spokeswoman for Thomas Carper of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, who said “will examine the impact of existing federal safety and security regulations on facilities like West Fertilizer and seek to identify whether additional steps should be taken to protect the public.”

Many people have pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security already has regulatory framework for requiring strict safety standards at facilities storing high-risk chemicals due to potential terrorist threats. They could have regulated West Fertilizer under the Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Standards program.

However, interviews indicate the many residents of West are not pointing the finger at anyone. Reuters interviewed local resident Chuck Smith, who helped his neighbors after the explosion:

“When all is said and done, they call them accidents for a reason. I mean the people that work there, the people that own that place, that go there … all of them were raised here, have kids here, have family here,” he said. “There was no malicious intent. There was no trying to skimp.”

Do I have a Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawsuit?

Our law firm has already been contacted by residents of West, Texas and we are now currently representing a number of victims in the horrible tragedy. If you or somebody you know was harmed by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation.

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