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West Fertilizer Plant had Prior Violations

Karis Rozof4 years ago

West Fertilizer Co., of West, Texas exploded Wednesday night leaving more than 150 people injured and at least 5 dead.

West Fertilizer Fined by EPA in 2006

The Environmental Protection Agency inspected West Fertilizer on March 16, 2006 and fined them $2,300 for deficiencies in their Risk Management Plan (RMP).

ABCNews.com lists the problems the EPA inspectors found:

  • Failure to update its RMP in a timely manner (the update was due in 2004, but wasn’t updated until 2006.)
  • Failure to document that hazards identified in the hazard review had been addressed.
  • Operating procedures failed to address consequences of deviation.
  • Poor employee training records.
  • The company had not developed a formal written maintenance program.

West Fertilizer Cited For Lack of Permit in 2006

In June 2006, West Fertilizer received a complaint of a strong ammonia smell and was investigated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. They were then cited for failure to qualify for or obtain an operating permit.

The company had two 12,000-gallon tanks of highly volatile gas anhydrous ammonia. According to state and federal documents, West Fertilizer was seller and not a manufacturer of anhydrous ammonia.

Fertilizer Plant Says Ammonia Did Not Pose a Risk

The plant told the TCEQ permit reviewer that emission from the tanks would not pose a risk to the residential neighborhoods and the two nearby schools.

“The regional investigator described the area surrounding the facility as residential and farm land. There are two schools located within 3000 ft of this facility, however, the impact potential is described by the region [regional TCEQ office] as low. The nearest off property receptor, a residence, is 350 ft from the plant.” – Texas Commission on Environment Quality

In order to qualify for the permit, TCEQ required that West Fertilizer build a wall between the tanks and a public road to prevent passing vehicles from striking tanks. On Dec. 12, 2006 the company complied and received a state permit. According to the Dallas Morning News, documents did not state how long the tanks had been operating before the state permit was issued.

Documented Precautionary Measures

In their permit application, West Fertilizer listed some precautionary measures they planned to implement due to their acknowledged population proximity.

  • The company said it would inspect its tanks for leaks once a day and would follow safety procedures when transferring the fertilizer to and from its storage tanks, operations that posed potential risks.
  • They said it would limit the amount in each tank to 85 percent of its capacity “to ensure maintainable vapor pressures.”
  • They told the state agency that “The facility shall also be equipped with a water spray system in the event of accidental release of NH3 [anhydrous ammonia].”
West Fertilizer was Never Inspected by OSHA

Additional concerns about West Fertilizer include the fact that there have been only six Texas fertilizer plants inspected by OSHA in the last five years but West Fertilizer was not one of them. https://themachinebook.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/osha.png

CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

Thomas J. Henry has been representing victims of industrial accidents for more than 20 years. We have secured multi-million dollar verdicts, settlement, and judgments for clients injured in workplace accidents and industrial disasters. If you or someone you love was injured in the West Fertilizer Co. explosion, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately, day or night, nights and weekends.

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