City sues CF Industries over West Fertilizer blast in Texas

24 June 2013 22:43 Source:ICIS News

City sues CF Industries over West Fertilizer blast in TexasHOUSTON (ICIS)--The city of West is suing CF Industries, accusing the US fertilizer producer of supplying the ammonium nitrate to a Texas storage facility that exploded, killing 15 people.

The city is seeking more than $1m (€760,000) in damages.

In a statement on Monday, CF said there was no basis for the lawsuit and that the company will seek to have the case dismissed. Otherwise, CF said it will defend itself in court.

In the lawsuit, the city alleged that the company's fertilizer exploded on 17 April at West Fertilizer's storage facility in the city. It destroyed several buildings, killing 15 people and injuring more than 160 people, the city said.

The city accused CF of failing to exercise proper care with their shipments to West Fertilizer, alleging that the company did not properly inspect the West Fertilizer site.

Had such inspections taken place, the city alleged that CF could have determined if West Fertilizer needed to take steps to make the storage facility safer. CF could have also recommended ways to safely store the fertilizer, the city said.

The city accused CF of making no attempt to determine what kind of risk the fertilizer posed to the people living near the storage facility.

"Instead, they blindly sold hundreds of tons of hazardous ammonium nitrate to West Fertilizer Co and delivered it to a facility located within a community of people, houses, parks, schools and a nursing home," the city said in the lawsuit.

In addition, CF could have included an additive or coating that the city maintained could have prevented the ammonium nitrate from exploding. Moreover, CF could have allegedly used an alternative formulation that the city said could have prevented the blast.

The city provided no further details about the additive, coating or alternative formulation.

In addition to CF, the city also sued the parent company of West Fertilizer, Adair Grain. It accused the company of being negligent in the way it stored the ammonium nitrate.

($1 = €0.76)

By Al Greenwood