West Anniversary Prompts Call for Safety Changes

By PAUL J. WEBER | April 16, 2014

The state fire marshal wants 46 facilities that store ammonium nitrate in Texas to make safety improvements following the deadly West fertilizer plant explosion last year.

State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy on Monday proposed new building requirements ahead of this week’s anniversary of the April 17 blast at West Fertilizer Co.

West, Texas, May 8, 2013 -- Norman Lenburg/FEMA
West, Texas, May 8, 2013 — Norman Lenburg/FEMA

Fifteen people were killed and another 200 were injured after tons of ammonium nitrate exploded into a massive fireball. The fertilizer plant had stored the chemical in flammable wooden containers.

Most of the dead were firefighters and first responders.

Connealy testified to a House committee that facilities similar to West Fertilizer should be given three years to either install sprinklers or retrofit their buildings to mitigate the potential for explosions.

But lawmakers are already warning of industry pushback.

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