Investigation into fertilizer explosion in preliminary stage - CSB

19 April 2013 22:40 Source:ICIS News

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HOUSTON (ICIS)--US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigators have arrived at the scene of Wednesday's massive explosion at a fertilizer distribution site in West, Texas, but the probe is just in the preliminary stage and no determination of the accident's cause has been reached, CSB officials said on Friday.

A fire at West Fertilizer resulted in a tremendous blast which resulted in 14 confirmed causalities, over 200 reported injuries and inflicted extensive property damage to the surrounding homes and businesses in the Central Texas community of 2,800 residents.

CSB officials said the federal agency, which is charged with investigating chemical accidents, said 12 investigators had arrived and was reviewing the site of the deadly blast. The group includes fire experts as well as people trained in explosive modelling.

“Basically the team has arrived, but there have been no findings as of right now,” said Jean Gonsoulin, CSB spokesperson.

Members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) National Response Team are also in West to help authorities in the investigation, according to an ATF spokesperson.

Authorities remain steadfast in the position that there is no indication that the incident was anything more than an industrial accident.

West Fertilizer operates as a distributor and in addition to mixing dry fertilizer had storage capacities that contain anhydrous ammonia, which has been viewed as the possible culprit in the explosion.

Speaking to the media Friday after touring the damage, US Senator John Cornyn said the federal government is prepared to assist the state and the citizens of West with whatever measures are needed in order to make a full recovery from the devastation.

By Mark Milam