Texas lawmakers to hold third hearing on West explosion on 26 Aug

22 August 2013 23:05  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee is set to hold another hearing on the West Fertilizer explosion on 26 August, state officials confirmed on Thursday.

Despite an extensive and costly investigation, federal and state officials have yet to fully determine what caused the lethal explosion at West Fertilizer on 17 April in West, Texas, which killed 15, injured 200 and caused approximately $100m (€75m) in structural damages.

As a follow-up to the May and June hearings on the disaster, the committee will hear testimony from entities including the Texas Department of Insurance, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Ag Industries Association.

While the matter is still being reviewed by state officials, what is known is that authorities with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the State Fire Marshal Office (SFMO) have determined that ammonium nitrate was stored in wooden bins at the facility and is the source of the eruption.

It has been determined that 150 tons (136 tonnes) were on site within the seed building at the facility at the time of the blast and was located a short distance from where investigators believe a fire ignited within the 12,000 square foot (1,100 square metre) structure.

SFMO investigators have ruled that a portion of the ammonium nitrate initially caught on fire and led to the remaining tons being ignited. It has been determined that there were two explosions at the site, coming milliseconds apart, and that the force of the blast was the equivalent of 15,000-20,000 lb (6.8-9.1 tonnes) of TNT.

($1 = €0.75)
By: Mark Milam



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