Safety Rules Limited for Small Fertilizer Plants

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

WEST, Texas (AP) - Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, continue to sift through debris in the Texas town of West today, following a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant.

Fourteen people were killed and more than 200 injured in a blast that devastated a four- to five-block radius. Authorities say residents will not being able to return to their homes until investigators are finished.

The plant had no sprinklers, firewalls or deluge systems. This is not unusual.

Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of different agencies. Each has a specific concern, and don't have to coordinate.

The plants, including 1,150 in Texas, are part of a regulatory system that focuses on large installations, though many of these smaller facilities contain enough agricultural chemicals to fuel a major explosion.

In Texas, where many communities have minimal zoning, houses and schools can be close to fertilizer plants. The blast Wednesday night destroyed a school, nursing home and houses in a four-block area.

The plant's owner has not returned calls seeking comment.


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