Tanks At TX Fertilizer Plant Leaking, Causing Fires

8:12 PM, Apr 20, 2013   |    comments
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WEST, Texas  -- Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, continue to sift through debris in the Texas town of West today, following a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant.

Fourteen people were killed and more than 200 injured in a blast that devastated a four- to five-block radius. Authorities say residents will not being able to return to their homes until investigators are finished.A fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded and killed at least 14 people rarely had safety inspections. It had no sprinklers, firewalls or deluge systems.

This is not unusual.

Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of different agencies. Each has a specific concern, and don't have to coordinate.

The plants, including 1,150 in Texas, are part of a regulatory system that focuses on large installations, though many of these smaller facilities contain enough agricultural chemicals to fuel a major explosion.

In Texas, where many communities have minimal zoning, houses and schools can be close to fertilizer plants. The blast Wednesday night destroyed a school, nursing home and houses in a four-block area.

The plant's owner has not returned calls seeking comment.

   Meanwhile, Officials are telling residents displaced by the massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas that tanks on site are leaking gas and causing small fires.

They say the fires are contained, but they are preventing those who live nearby from returning to their homes in the town of West.

Paramedic Bryce Reed visited a hotel crammed with displaced residents on Saturday and gave a short briefing.

Reed, who is also a spokesman for West, said there may be reports of "another explosion in West," but warned that those are exaggerated.

He said the leaks were caused by tanks damaged by heat and had triggered small fires. He said no further evacuations were necessary.

Many residents are expressing frustrating at the length of time they've been kept away from their homes. Officials say they need to complete their investigation into the cause of the blast, which killed at least 14 people.

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