US CSB probe of West Fertilizer blast focusing on siting, storage

24 July 2013 19:47  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is looking into the issue of where facilities, such as the Texas fertilizer plant that exploded on 17 April, are allowed to be located, as well as finding safer ways to store the chemical that led to that deadly explosion and fire, the chairman of the CSB said on Wednesday.

The CSB is taking possession of evidence obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as part of the CSB’s own investigation into the West Fertilizer incident in which 14 people were killed, said board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso in an interview at CSB headquarters.

The agency’s investigation is focusing on two main aspects – where chemical storage facilities are sited and ways to store ammonium nitrate (AN) more safely, he said.

The plant in West, Texas, was located near apartments and schools, but it occurred in the early evening when most of those places were not at peak occupancy.

“We would like to determine what could have been the loss of life had this thing had happened at 9 in the morning,” Moure-Eraso said.

Based on that information, the CSB will make recommendations to the federal and state governments on where such facilities should be allowed to locate, he said.

Also, the board is looking into how AN could be formulated in a way that it can be stored more safely.

The CSB has found that the AN at West Fertilizer had been stored in combustible wooden bins that were near significant amounts of combustible seeds in the same warehouse.

The CSB plans to hold a community meeting in the West area sometime in October to discuss its investigation, Moure-Eraso said. No firm date and location has been scheduled yet, he said.


By: Jeremy Pafford
+1 713 525 2653



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