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Author Topic: West Fertilizer Co., West, TX Explosion-15 Dead, Over 200 Wounded  (Read 82251 times)
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« Reply #340 on: July 03, 2014, 08:47:40 AM »

http://www.wfaa.com/news/investigates/Texas-AG-tells-citizens-to-get-chemical-lists-from-businesses-not-the-state-265620211.html
Abbott tells citizens to get chemical lists from businesses, not the state
July 3, 2014

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« Reply #341 on: July 09, 2014, 08:46:04 AM »

http://www.wfaa.com/news/texas-news/Community-fights-decision-to-raze-historic-high-school-in-West-266342671.html
West residents fight decision to raze historic school building
July 8, 2014



WEST — A recent decision to knock down the original high school building in West, Texas is drawing the ire of a growing number of citizens.
A petition is circulating; a Facebook page with more than 1,300 members has been launched; and more than 100 citizens are expected at a Wednesday night school board meeting.
 
Karlik said many people in town feel the original building — constructed in 1923 — should be restored as symbol of the town's determination in wake of the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion.
The building, which was being used primarily as a middle school, suffered blown-out windows and some interior damage during the blast.
Originally, word around town was that the old high school was one of the few district buildings that could be saved.
"That is what we were told. Then we didn't hear anything for months," said former McLennan County Commissioner Joe Mashek. "Then we open up the newspaper, and right on the front page is a picture saying the school board has voted to demolish it."
That vote was taken last month.
West ISD Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said it would have cost close to $1.3 million just to fix the building's windows and an interior wall. Some estimates were as high as $4 million for a complete overhaul, although an earlier estimate was half that figure.
In a written statement, Crawford said the decision didn't come lightly.
"All seven trustees graduated from West when the 1923 building was the high school. Unfortunately, the District is having to navigate the complexity of insurance proceeds and federal support commitments while trying to protect our fiscal and educational covenants to current West ISD taxpayers and generations of future students."
Mashek said no one he has talked with is trying to take funds away from other projects, but rather wants to preserve the one original piece of the district that still exists after the blast.
"This building is a survivor, and I think it deserves more respect than to let this happen," he said.
A large turnout is expected at Wednesday night's school trustee meeting, where the people are expected to speak during public comment.

Mashek said his group is fully prepared to retain attorneys to try and get some type of historical designation for the building so it won't be razed.
The school board is also considering a special meeting next Tuesday to further discuss its decision.
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« Reply #342 on: July 16, 2014, 11:57:03 AM »

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/state/2014/07/16/original-west-high-school-building-saved-from-wrecking-ball/12728295/
Original West High School building saved from wrecking ball
July 16, 2014

WEST, Texas -- The school board in West, Texas did an about-face Tuesday night.

The district says it will suspend plans to knock down the town's original high school building that was built in 1923.
 
ecent estimates to renovate the structure ran as high as $4 million.

A committee will make a decision on how the old high school building will be used.
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« Reply #343 on: July 25, 2014, 10:57:27 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Fertilizer-Companies-Blame-West-VFD-Others-For-Deadly-Explosion-268640792.html
Fertilizer Companies Blame West VFD, Others, For Deadly Explosion
July 25, 2014

WEST (July 25, 2014) CF Industries, CF Industries Sales, CF Industries, Inc., CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC and CF Industries Enterprises, Inc., the fertilizer companies that are the target of a lawsuit over the April 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion, have filed a response in which they blame the West Volunteer Fire Department, Adair Grain, a golf cart manufacturer and a mystery man for the blast.

The filing says the blame for the April 17, 2013 explosion that left 15 dead, scores injured and destroyed dozens of house and buildings resulted from the inability of the local fire department to fight a major industrial fire.

In addition the companies blame Adair Grain, which the filing says improperly stored the volatile fertilizer that exploded, the manufacturer of a golf cart that investigators said could have been the source of the initial fire that led to the blast, and an unnamed individual who, according to investigation, could have started the fire as a criminal act.

The filing points out that the State Fire Marshal's Office investigated the fire and found in its report that "the West Volunteer Fire Department did not properly plan, train or equip firefighters of the WVFD to handle a fire at a high-risk commercial business."

The filing goes on to say that the state fire marshal "noted that the storage and handling practices utilized by Adair Grain...of the materials in its facility, including ammonium nitrate, were unsafe and did not meet current standards for the storage of those materials."

Further, the filing says officials who investigated the explosion determined that the fire that triggered the blast “may have been caused by a golf cart kept on the premises at West Fertilizer."

And finally the filing says the official report from the state fire marshal suggests "the fire may have been 'an intentionally set fire' by an unknown criminal actor."

“The City of West, Adair Grain, Inc., Textron Company (the manufacturer of the golf cart) and John Doe be designated as responsible third parties …,” the filing said.

Steve Harrison, a Waco lawyer who is part of the plaintiff's steering committee in the lawsuit, dismissed the claims Friday.

“The manufacturers of the fertilizer that blew up half the town of West, killed 15 people, injured hundreds and destroyed homes and businesses are trying to blame the explosion and damage on the West Volunteer Fire Department, a golf cart manufacturer and an imaginary criminal person … some things really just don't need any comment."
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« Reply #344 on: July 27, 2014, 04:32:56 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/West-Lawsuits-May-Hide-Important-Facts-About-Deadly-Explosion-268792911.html
West Lawsuits May Hide Important Facts About Deadly Explosion
July 27, 2014

WEST (July 27, 2014) Potentially valuable health and safety information surrounding the deadly April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion in West could be hidden from the public forever because of confidentiality agreements approved by state District Judge Jim Meyer.

The agreements were requested by attorneys involved in at least 15 separate lawsuits, and the result is that lawyers can label as confidential virtually all information uncovered as they prepare for trial.

The Dallas Morning News reported that the information could include more details about injuries and safety testing of the fertilizer that exploded.
 
Legal scholars note that taxpayers cover the cost for the courts in which lawsuits are tried, which means the information should be public.
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« Reply #345 on: September 03, 2014, 08:43:58 PM »

http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/West-to-get-Emergency-Alert-Phone-System-273808061.html
West to get Emergency Alert Phone System
September 3, 2014

WEST, Texas (AP) A church in the small Texas city devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion is funding an emergency alert system for the town's residents.

The system will allow West officials to deliver an automated phone message to residents in the case of an incident like the blast last year that killed 15 people.

Waco television station KXXV reports that the city's First United Methodist Church will pay almost $4,000 for two years of the system.

Pastor Jimmy Sansom says the church will draw from donations it received after the April 2013 blast.
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« Reply #346 on: October 31, 2014, 11:56:20 AM »

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/27163131/west-getting-new-schools-after-plant-explosion
West getting new schools after plant explosion
October 30, 2014

WEST, Texas (AP) - A Central Texas town devastated by a 2013 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people will be getting two new schools.

Groundbreaking ceremonies are planned Thursday in West to replace middle and high schools that were leveled in the April 2013 accident.

The West Independent School District announced the groundbreaking for the $50 million project as part of continuing recovery efforts. Insurance money and government funds are helping paying for the schools.
 
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« Reply #347 on: November 20, 2014, 08:58:19 PM »

http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/27433279/state-rep-looks-to-help-save-firemens-memorial-expansion-plan
State rep looks to help save firemen's memorial expansion plan
November 20, 2014



An unexpected $90,000 price hike to expand one of the oldest monuments at the State Capitol may be resolved with an IOU.

The firemen's memorial, located on the south grounds of the Texas Capitol, stands to honor those who died answering calls for help. Now a plan to expand the monument is looking to be rescued.

"I think we can get definitely get the whole thing built,” said State Rep Drew Springer (R) Muenster.

Springer, a firefighter himself, is trying to revive the expansion campaign launched by the State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association.

"This one being the second oldest monument on the state grounds, its never received state funding, to put it there, we've always paid to put the names on it ourselves, as a volunteer fireman ... I think we can get a little bit of help on this situation,” said Springer

The association spent the summer raising $150,000 to build a granite ring around the monument so more names can be added. The project was sidetracked after the State Preservation Board revealed original constriction estimates were off by almost $100,000. The unexpected price hike blindsided the association's Executive Director Chris Barron.

"We thought for sure we had more than enough money to do the project, but the actual estimates came in we were actually shell shocked,” said Barron last week.

Representative Springer believes the state could front the association the remaining amount of money that's needed to build the memorial ring.

"The Preservation Board has funds available, its really more their rules, they would have to take the IOU coming from either the Legislators to back fill that, or from the Association to go out and raise the money,” said Springer.

There is a sense of urgency. The association will hold its annual memorial ceremony in March. At that time, the plan is to have the names of the firemen killed in the West fertilizer plant explosion etched into the new granite. The only other option that's left on the table is to build half of the extension now and come back later after all the money is raised. The association doesn't want to wait and Rep. Springer says other Capitol monuments have received state aid.

"Its not out of the norm, the state has funded for different monuments, usually roughly a 50% match, the most current the Vietnam Memorial, that we funded about half a million dollars on,” said Springer.
 
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« Reply #348 on: December 03, 2014, 12:41:18 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Parkers-Park-Project-in-West-Approved-284566241.html
Parker's Park Project In West Approved
December 2, 2014


Parker Pustejovsky (File)

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« Reply #349 on: April 17, 2015, 10:12:04 AM »



http://www.statesman.com/gallery/news/west-plant-explosion-041713/g89r/
Photos: A look at West explosion, two years later

West plant explosion, 04.17.13

305 images



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« Reply #350 on: April 17, 2015, 10:19:44 AM »



My husband remarked just this past week that "nothing has changed".  He was talking about no movement in legislation and laws.      Since we've seen what can happen, it's a matter of when, not if, imo.    

In other words, it's business as usual.  Citizens will continue living near hazardous and explosive chemicals and we'll continue sending our first responders (majority of firefighters in Texas are volunteers) into dangers that don't have to be.  JMHO

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« Reply #351 on: April 17, 2015, 10:22:12 AM »

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/west-texas/2015/04/15/two-years-after-explosion-west-pushes-forward/25723607/
Two years after explosion, West pushes forward
April 15, 2015

 
The town will commemorate the anniversary with a vigil Friday night at 7:30 at St. Mary's Church of the Assumption in West.

The service will include prayer, songs and a moment of silence at 7:51, the exact time of the explosion. The public is welcome to attend.
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« Reply #352 on: April 17, 2015, 10:24:37 AM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/two-years-after-west-explosion-crackdown-on-indust/nkwjM/
Two years after West explosion, crackdown on industry is unlikely
April 16, 2015

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« Reply #353 on: April 17, 2015, 10:47:34 PM »

http://www.kvue.com/story/news/investigations/defenders/2015/04/17/little-regulation-proposed-two-years-after-west-explosion/25956895/
2 years after West explosion, little regulation proposed
April 17, 2015

WEST, Texas -- Two years after the West explosion, some watchdog groups say the state has done little to improve safety involving chemical facilities.

This session, state lawmakers have filed at least four bills in direct response to the explosion, but advocates say legislation that could create meaningful change stand little chance to becoming law.

HB 2470, drafted by State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), would require facilities, which carry ammonium nitrate, carry liability insurance That's the same chemical stored in the fertilizer plant in West. Earlier this month, the House Committee on Environmental Regulation held a hearing on it, but it was left pending.

Another bill, HB 924, would allow smaller municipalities to enact their own fire codes. Right now, state law prevents counties with populations of 250,000 or less from creating their own fire code.

Rep. Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) filed HB 417. It which would give the state fire marshal the power to write his own fire safety rules. Under current law, the fire marshal is required to ask permission to inspect chemical plants and can only offer recommendations to facility owners.

Robin Schneider with Texas Campaign for the Environment said she believes state lawmakers are actually considering legislation that could make it easier for tragedies like West to happen again.

"Two years after the west explosion to the day the Texas house past another bill that takes away local ability to deal with potential health and safety problems that could lead to another catastrophe," Schneider said.

Schneider is specifically talking about HB 40, drafted by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo). If passed, the bill would give the Texas Railroad Commission the authority to over-ride city laws involving oil and gas operations, including hydraulic fracking. Schneider says the consequences of prohibiting local municipalities from regulating oil and gas could cause another West tragedy.

"The legislators don't understand that you can't just have businesses regulate themselves. There are some that do the right then, but there are others that take them lightly," said Schneider.

Messages left at Darby's officer were not returned.

The Texas Public Interest Research Group wants the federal government to step in.

"Preventing chemical accidents isn't rocket science," wrote Sara Smith, director of TexPIRG in a news release on Friday. "Chemical facilities simply need to switch to less dangerous alternatives. Some have done it voluntarily, but the EPA needs to make a rule that requires all facilities to make the switch. We've already seen that we can't rely on the Texas legislature."
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« Reply #354 on: August 15, 2015, 07:50:34 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/321878942.html
Judge Refuses To Reschedule West Explosion Lawsuit
August 14, 2015

WACO (August 14, 2015) A district judge on Thursday refused a request from defense lawyers to put off the first of the pending lawsuit in relation to the West fertilizer plant explosion.

Defense attorneys presented a motion in Judge Jim Meyer’s 170th District Court on Wednesday that asked the judge to delay the trial until February 2016, but Meyer on Thursday declined the motion and left the trial set on October 12.

Defense lawyers said they wanted the trial set off so they could wait for results of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

ATF has refused to hand over results they’ve compiled so far and says it’s “working in earnest” to complete the investigation, however ATF experts offered no timeline for completion.

It’s the second time Meyers has declined to provide additional time for Dallas lawyer Carlos Balido, who is representing the fertilizer manufacturer.

Waco lawyer Steve Harrison said the motion for delay was just one more effort by the defense to delay justice for the more than 200 individuals and entities who have sued the manufacturer and the West plant for responsibility in the April 17, 2013 ammonium nitrate explosion that killed 15 and injured 226.
 
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« Reply #355 on: August 17, 2015, 01:08:59 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/322056641.html
Judge Hears Motions Monday In West Fertilizer Explosion Cases
August 17, 2015

WACO (August 17, 2015) Dozens of lawyers crowded a Waco district courtroom Monday as defense lawyers presented a list of motions in the West fertilizer plant explosion lawsuits.

Lawyers for several entities who were named as defendants in the lawsuits involving more than 200 plaintiffs were asking 170th District Judge Jim Meyer to order summary judgements in the cases, which if granted would bring the cases to a close without a trial.

According to Black’s Legal Dictionary, a summary judgement is a decision by a judge that resolves a lawsuit before there is a trial.

The moving party gathers all the evidence in the case in its favor, then contrasts it to the evidence presented on the other side and argues that there remain no "triable issues of fact."

In effect, a summary judgement makes it clear that the opposing side could not prevail at trial if the case were to proceed.

Waco attorney Steve Harrison, chief litigator for the plaintiffs, said the move by defense attorneys was anticipated and likely will not be effective.

Defense attorneys began the hearing with opening statements and after about two hours turned the floor over to the plaintiffs.

Harrison said the issues likely would take three days to resolve but the court scheduled the hearings to last all week.
 
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« Reply #356 on: September 26, 2015, 07:27:00 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Judge-Denies-Extension-Orders-First-West-Lawsuit-To-Trial-329638491.html
Judge Denies Extension, Orders First West Lawsuit To Trial
September 26, 2015

WEST (September 26, 2015) A district judge on Friday refused to grant defense lawyers an extension of time on their third try and ordered the first West explosion lawsuit to trial in two weeks.

Judge Jim Meyers, in 170th District Court on Friday, told a Dallas defense lawyer he refused to see the case drag on for an undetermined amount of time and left his October 12 setting in place.

Dallas defense attorney Carlos Balido had asked for the continuance because he said he had received information from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that could shed new light on the outcome of the case.

But lead plaintiff’s attorney Steve Harrison, of Waco, said the information the defense was given was sparse at best and since a formal release of the BATF’s investigation was not complete, the rest of the data could come in spurts that might take a year or more to be complete.

Meyers ordered both sides to be ready to go to trial two weeks from Monday.

Another plaintiff’s lawyer who has clients in cases that will go to trial later, pointed out to Meyer that two of his clients were killed in the April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15, injured scores more and left dozens of homes and buildings destroyed or damaged and other clients are of such an advanced age that they may die before they get their “day in court.”

It was the third attempt by the defense to have the case set off.

Meyer already has granted two extensions of time in the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the defendants also tried unsuccessfully to be granted summary jugements in the case that in effect would have brought the lawsuits to an end because they said the plaintiff’s could not provide ample evidence of responsibility for the devastating explosion.

Meyer denied that motion on August 21, saying there is sufficient evidence that negligence on the part of the defendants existed and that the matter should be decided by a jury.

In January 2014 lawyers representing about 200 plaintiffs in the series of lawsuits filed a new petition that specifically details what they say happened and who should be responsible.

The defendants now include El Dorado Chemical Co., CF Industries Sales, of Wilmington, Delaware, CF Industries Holdings, CF Industries Inc., CF Industries Enterprises, CF Industries Nitrogen LLC, all of Deerfield, Illinois, International Chemical Company, of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Adair Grain, Inc., of West.

CF Industries is the second largest nitrogen fertilizer producer and third largest phosphate fertilizer producer among public companies in the world, according to information on the company's Website.

In a report issued August 14, 2014, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released the findings of a months-long investigation of the deadly April 17, 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion, which officials say could have been prevented.

The board's investigation did not uncover significant new details about what happened or identify the cause of the fire, but it does underscore the need for more regulation, officials said.

The plant’s owners failed to take the necessary measures to prevent a fire, officials said, pointing out that the ammonium nitrate that exploded was stored in a wooden building that did not have a fire-suppressing sprinkler system.

"The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable, " board Chairman Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said.

"It 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," he said.
 
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« Reply #357 on: October 08, 2015, 06:02:21 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Hundreds-Of-Prospective-Jurors-Called-For-West-Explosion-Trial-331089302.html
Hundreds Of Prospective Jurors Called For West Explosion Trial
October 7, 2015

WEST (October 7, 2015) The McLennan County District Clerk's Office has called 400 prospective jury members for the trial of the first of many lawsuits filed in the wake of the deadly April 17, 2013, West fertilizer plant explosion which begins Monday.

The blast destroyed the plant, and much of the town for miles around the site, injuring more than 200 and killing 15 people, 12 of them first responders.

The 400 called were instructed to report to the McLennan County Courthouse on Friday morning to complete questionnaires about their potential service on the jury, lead plaintiff's counsel Waco attorney Steve Harrison said Wednesday.

Over the weekend lawyers on both sides will review the questionnaires, eliminate any candidates they find unfit to serve for cause and compile a final list before beginning jury questioning on Monday morning, Harrison said.

The prospective jurors were instructed to gather in the auxiliary courtroom in the old McLennan County Jail building because that's the only space large enough to hold them all.

Harrison said the entire case will be heard in that courtroom.

Lawyers for both sides will gather Thursday for a final pretrial hearing during which several "housekeeping" matters will be discussed, Harrison said.

Judge Jim Meyers, in 170th District Court, has ruled on several issues during a handful of previous pre-trial hearings and twice has granted defense lawyers an extension of time.

But in the latest two attempts at a continuance, Meyer has ruled against the defense motions and ordered both sides to be ready for trial on Monday.
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« Reply #358 on: October 11, 2015, 09:17:57 PM »

http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Jurors-For-West-Explosion-Lawsuit-Dismissed-After-Parties-Reach-Agreement-331938021.html
Jurors For West Explosion Lawsuit Dismissed After Parties Reach Agreement
October 11, 2015

WACO (October 11, 2015) More than 280 prospective jurors who were to meet Monday at the McLennan County Courthouse have been told not to show up after parties in the pending west explosion lawsuit reached an agreement over the weekend.

Some 400 prospective jurors were called Friday to appear to be qualified to serve on the jury and that number was paired to 283, McLennan County District Clerk Jon Gimble said Sunday afternoon.

Gimble told News 10 that 170th District Judge Jim Meyer instructed him to dismiss the panel and there would be no need for the trial.

“The claims of the trial group plaintiffs have been resolved between the parties set for trial on Monday and there will be no trial (on Monday)”, lead plaintiff’s counsel Waco attorney Steve Harrison said Sunday afternoon.

The trial that had been set for Monday was to have been the first of many that grew out of the April 17, 2013 explosion at the West fertilizer plant that killed 15, injured more than 150 and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, including school buildings and a nursing home.

Though prospective jurors in the West case were dismissed, Gimble said jurors who were called for other duties in other district courts still must show up on Monday.

The decision on the case set for Monday has no bearing on the dozens of cases left on the court’s docket that grew out of the tragedy.

Lawyers for the defendants tried unsuccessfully to be granted summary judgements in the case that in effect would have brought the lawsuits to an end because they said the plaintiff’s could not provide ample evidence of responsibility for the devastating explosion.

Meyer denied that motion on August 21, saying there is sufficient evidence that negligence on the part of the defendants existed and that the matter should be decided by a jury.

In January 2014 lawyers representing about 200 plaintiffs in the series of lawsuits filed a new petition that specifically details what they say happened and who should be responsible.

The defendants now include El Dorado Chemical Co., CF Industries Sales, of Wilmington, Delaware, CF Industries Holdings, CF Industries Inc., CF Industries Enterprises, CF Industries Nitrogen LLC, all of Deerfield, Illinois, International Chemical Company, of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Adair Grain, Inc., of West.

CF Industries is the second largest nitrogen fertilizer producer and third largest phosphate fertilizer producer among public companies in the world, according to information on the company's Website.

In a report issued August 14, 2014, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board released the findings of a months-long investigation of the deadly April 17, 2013 West fertilizer plant explosion, which officials say could have been prevented.

The board's investigation did not uncover significant new details about what happened or identify the cause of the fire, but it does underscore the need for more regulation, officials said.

The plant’s owners failed to take the necessary measures to prevent a fire, officials said, pointing out that the ammonium nitrate that exploded was stored in a wooden building that did not have a fire-suppressing sprinkler system.
"The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable, " board Chairman Dr. Rafael Moure-Eraso said.

 
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« Reply #359 on: October 11, 2015, 09:30:20 PM »

http://kxan.com/2015/10/11/settlement-reached-in-1st-west-explosion-trial/
Settlement Reached in 1st West Explosion Trial
October 11, 2015

An undisclosed settlement was reached in the first phase of a series of trials related to a deadly fertilizer explosion in West, Texas, a district clerk confirmed to NBC DFW.

A notification posted on the McLennan County website announced to jurors the case had been resolved, and they were no longer needed to report for jury duty. Jury selection in the trial of the first group of plaintiffs was scheduled to begin Monday morning.

The fire at the plant ignited in a seed room and quickly engulfed an area where ammonium nitrate was stored in wooden containers. The chemical caused a massive detonation, an investigation by the State Fire Marshals’ Office and the ATF revealed.

Plaintiffs in the first group were related to Kevin Sanders, 33; William “Buck” Uptmor Jr., 45; and Kenneth Luckey Harris Jr., 52. All were killed in the explosion.

The lawsuits are against the local owners of the plant that exploded and companies that either manufactured or sold fertilizer to West Fertilizer Co. The suits were filed by families of those who died, the city, a nursing home and an apartment complex.

The owners of the West Fertilizer Co. had $1 million in liability coverage, but the damage from the explosion exceeded $200 million.
 
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  " Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."  - Daniel Moynihan
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