Federal Investigators: Deadly Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Was “Preventable”
CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said the fire and explosion “resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it.”
CSB said the fertilizer should have been stored in fireproof concrete structures to guard against possible fire hazards, rather than the wooden structures at the destroyed plant, and that a lack of fire codes contributed to the disaster.
“Local fire departments need fire codes so they can hold industrial operators accountable for safe storage and handling of chemicals,” said Moure-Eraso.
The ammonium nitrate that caught fire at the Texas plant burned for 22 minutes before exploding.
CSB also found that volunteer firefighters were unaware of the explosion risk when they rushed to extinguish the fire and were caught in harm’s way when the blast occurred. Among the dead were 10 first responders, as well as two civilians who volunteered to battle the blaze. At least 200 local residents were also injured in the blast, which destroyed a neighboring 50-unit apartment complex and seriously damaged a nearby nursing home and junior high school.