Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fertilizer plant explosion at West caught on video

State to check West fertilizer plant records for fire sprinklers required by EPA for anhydrous ammonia storage...

West – According to a permit chief at a Texas watchdog commission, the company that operated the ammonia nitrate fertilizer manufacturing plant at West told the EPA it had no automatic fire sprinkler system in 2011. 

Mike Wilson of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told newsmen that his department requires the automatic fire control systems in areas where anyhdrous ammonia is stored and blended. 

When a fire ignited at the plant about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, the tanks holding the highly explosive mixture soon exploded as wind whipped the flames. The resulting explosion killed an undetermined number of people, left elderly patients struggling in collapsed portions of a convalescent home, and hundreds of people injured. 

Many wandered the streets in shock, homeless in a cold rain storm as rescuers struggled to clear the scene of survivors. A member of the family that owns the plant told newsmen earlier that it may never be known what exactly caused the fire and explosion. 

The highly volatile product is used to fertilize fields, and also to detonate explosions at rock quarries. It was used along with a mixture of diesel fuel to demolish the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in an attack on April 19, 1995.

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