Texas Watch

Report: Texas Hasn't Done Enough since West Explosion

Report: Texas Hasn't Done Enough since West Explosion

West, Texas, 2013—a fertilizer plant explodes, injuring over 260 and killing 15, most of whom were first responders on the site. The blast was among the most destructive ever investigated by the U.S.. Chemical Safety Board. 

Three years later, only a few attempts have been made to prevent another explosion. Attempts that a report released by the Chemical Safety Board last month called "inadequate." 

The fertilizer plant in West stored about 30 tons of ammonium nitrate- over 12 times the amount used by Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City Bombing. So, when a fire started at the facility, an explosion was imminent. But in the three years since this great tragedy, only three bills relating to the regulation of ammonium nitrate were filled and only one of them passed.

Texas Tells podcast Episode 12: Have we done enough since West? 

Due to a lack of meaningful reforms, the CSB found that 19 other plants in Texas, all of which are within a half-mile of a school, hospital, or nursing home, are at risk of facing a similar tragedy. 

Because West didn’t have strict zoning laws, the West Fertilizer plant was located right next to a middle school, high school, residences, and a nursing home—all of these structures experienced a significant amount of damage in the blast. People in the area were also not notified about the danger they faced. But, the volunteer firefighters weren’t adequately trained in dealing with hazardous materials, so they just didn’t realize that an explosion would happen. It was a lack of preparation that led to these circumstances, making the explosion so much more destructive. 

But, Texans still have the chance to make meaningful safety reforms. In its 267-page report, the CSB details numerous safety measures that Texas lawmakers can make to prevent another West- like sprinklers to prevent fires, proper storage, zoning laws to move the facilities away from schools and hospitals, and adequate liability insurance. 

Tell your lawmaker to pass meaningful chemical safety reforms here.

Learn Category: