BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

Texas Fertilizer Plant Where Massive Explosion Happened Fined $118,300 For Workplace Violations

West Fertilizer Co. is being fined for 24 workplace violations after the April 17 explosion, which began as a fire.

Posted on October 10, 2013, at 1:02 p.m. ET

A fire began on April 17 at the conclusion of a workday at West Fertilizer Co., but soon turned into a massive explosion, killing 15 people.

Mike Stone / Reuters

The company is now being fined $118,300 for 24 workplace violations, including unsafely handling and storing two dangerous chemicals, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Adrees Latif / Reuters

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is levying the fine because one of the chemicals, ammonium nitrate, is what fueled the blast.

Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram / MCT

Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate’s environment and public works committee, announced the fines because OSHA couldn't publicize its findings due to the government shutdown.

Pool / AP

Boxer says the plant failed to train and license forklift operators, didn’t pressure test replacement hoses on chemical tanks, had inadequate relief valves, did not have an emergency response plan or required fire extinguishers.

Richard Rodriguez / Reuters

Many countries have banned or strictly regulate ammonium nitrate because of its explosive nature, but in the U.S., it can be purchased by the ton.

Michael Ainsworth/Dallas Morning News / MCT

From The Dallas Morning News:

"Then you can store it in a wooden warehouse with no sprinkler system, a few hundred feet from a middle school. That's what happened in the Central Texas farming town of West, where an explosion destroyed nearby schools, houses and a nursing home. The blast killed 15 people, including 12 first responders. Several hundred more suffered injuries, some as severe as broken bones, ruptured organs and blindness."

Support our journalism

Help BuzzFeed News reporters expose injustices and keep quality news free.