The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) called on states and counties to take action to identify hazards related to and require safe handling and storage of ammonium nitrate during a presentation of its preliminary findings into the ongoing investigation of the explosion and fire that occurred at an ammonium nitrate storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, on April 17, 2013.
“[CSB] found 1,351 facilities across the country that store ammonium nitrate,” said CSB Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks. “Farm communities are just starting to collect data on how close homes or schools are to [ammonium nitrate] storage, but there can be little doubt that West is not alone and that other communities should act to determine what hazards might exist in proximity.”
CSB has also determined that lessons learned from emergency responses to previous ammonium nitrate incidents have not been effectively disseminated to emergency responders in communities where ammonium nitrate is stored. According to the agency, the firefighters who responded to the fire at the West Fertilizer facility were not aware of the explosion hazard posed by the ammonium nitrate stored there.
The explosion and fire at West Fertilizer fatally injured at least 14 people and caused 226 injuries and widespread damage to the surrounding community.
For more information, visit CSB’s website.