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Mon April 22, 2013
After disaster, concerns about regulation
The deadly blast in West has raised questions about the efficiency of the state's monitoring systems for potentially hazardous industrial facilities.
It will take time to determine the exact cause of the fire and explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. The disaster has cost at least 14 lives, caused 200 injuries and has destroyed at least 50 homes. The blast was so strong that it blew out windows for miles, and even registered as an earthquake. First responders said the aftermath looked like “a war zone.”
Yet even at this early stage of the investigation, there are signs that not all was right with the plant, like the fact that it had as much as 270 tons of ammonium nitrate (which can be explosive) at the site, but no sprinklers or fire barriers. It’s also brought up questions about regulation in Texas, and whether homes and schools should be so close to industry. (State fire officials have said that there are no signs of criminal activity so far in the West explosion.)