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According to state records, the plant was founded in 1962 by Emil Plasek whose name was common in a town founded by Czech immigrants. It was a grain storage and fertilizer distribution center for the farmers in the area with its stores on the periphery of a little town in a village of America.
Initially, the plant was known by the name ‘Texas Grain Storage, Inc.’ but it later changed to ‘West Fertilizer Company’ when it changed its ownership changed to Donald Adair in 2004 . Colleen and Tim say that daily activities of the plant were left to only 13 workers with the general manager Ted Uptmore Sr included.
From Scott, Colleen and Tim, the fire accident occurred on the 17th April, 2013 killing 14 people and leaving more than 200 people with injuries. In addition, Hilary says that 75 homes were demolished, a nursing home, an apartment complex and middle school laid devastate, and West Fertilizer Company’s plant itself smashed .
The Reuters records concerning Texas Department of State Health Services, which were not known to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirm that by the end of the previous year, the plant had 270 tons of ammonium nitrate in store. It is a mandatory requirement for fertilizer factories and stores to relay information to the DHS when more than 180kg of the material is in their stores.
The plant did contrary to this as a person familiar with DHS operations said. According to him, the firm owning the West Fertilizer factory did not reveal information to DHS about the explosive nature of the fertilizer as it is mandated to.
Bennie Thompson, (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, argued that the facility was known to contain chemicals exceeding the threshold amount to be regulated under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Act (CFATS), yet they realized that DHS did not even know the plant’s existence until it blew up.
In addition, Sam, the director of process safety center at Texas A&M University says that if the necessary information is not availed to organizations such as DHS that regulate the handling and storage of ammonium nitrate, as evidenced in this case, then it will be impossible to ensure that the companies operate within the stipulated rules.
No nation, society or person is invulnerable to the blow of disasters. Disasters, however, can be and have been prepared for, responded to, recovered from, and their effects mitigated to a certain degree (Haddow, Jane and Damon)
The plant faces two law suits filed in McLennan County district court accusing the company of negligence in the operation of its facility, creating an irrationally risky condition that led to the fire and explosion. The law suit was filed on the Friday of 19th by insurance companies on behalf of individuals, two churches, and businesses including a Chevrolet car dealer and a bakery .
Hilary says that shortly after the April 17 explosion, The Schmidt Firm, a leading national plaintiffs’ law firm with headquarters in Dallas was one of the first to launch a webpage dubbed “If you or somebody you know was injured by the fertilizer plant blast in West, Texas, and get in touch with our lawyers immediately for a free case discussion”.
Forsyth, Jim. “HUFF SPOT: BUSINESS.” 23 April 2013. Texas Fertilizer Plant Owner Sued After Deadly Explosion. 25 April 2013.
Haddow, George D., Jane A. Bullock, and Damon P. Coppola. Introduction to Emergency Management. NEW YORK: 2008 Print.
Hylton, Hillary. “Times U.S.” 22 April 2013. After the Texas Explosion: A Firestorm of Lawsuits? 25 April 2013.
Neuman, Scott. “The two way: BREAKING NEWS FROM NPR.” 22 April 2013. More Bodies Identified In Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion. 25 April 2013.
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Reuters. “US News.” 22 April 2013. Texas Fertilizer Plant Didn’t Heed Disclosure Rules Before Blast. 25 April 2013.