Just as the nation was recovering from the shock of the bombing in Boston, a massive explosion claims the lives of at least 14 people in the small town of West, Texas. The blast occurred Wednesday evening, April 17, 2013. The entire community was evacuated. The explosion was said to be felt 50 miles away. Homes, apartments, businesses, a school and even a nursing home were among the structures that were reported to have sustained the greatest amount of damage.
There are at least six local, state and federal investigative authorities working to determine the cause of the fire. The devastating explosion has been described as being the worst American industrial accident to happen in years. The latest reports indicate that at least 14 people were killed. In addition, 200 people were injured and more than 50 homes were destroyed. CBS News reported that many of the deaths were of first responders. There is word that they have discovered where the explosion originated, but they still don’t know what caused the initial fire.
Many questions still remain unanswered about the cause of the explosion at the fertilizer plant. Investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have sent in teams to help determine what caused the fire and the explosion. Investigative efforts are likely to continue until a cause can be determined. Initial information has been released about the safety of the plant and its potential risk level prior to the explosion. Serious questions are being asked about whether or not West Fertilizer co. exercised reasonable precautions for the safe handling of dangerous chemicals. The Dallas Morning News reported that West Fertilizer Co. reported having 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on location.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a $2,300 penalty was issued in 2006 against West Fertilizer Co. for failing to have a risk management plan in place that would meet federal standards. Their ‘worst-case-scenario’ was listed as a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would not have caused any injuries or deaths. Investigative officials and citizens may be wondering how the actual incident could vary so greatly from their predicted worst possible scenario.
The team at the Altman Legal Group sends their deepest condolences to the family members and friends of all of the victims of this terrible explosion. We also wish everybody who has been injured speedy and full recoveries.