The town of West, Texas, about 80 miles south of Dallas, was rocked this week by a huge explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. At the moment, emergency responders and investigators know that people have died in the explosion, others are missing, and more hundreds were hurt – many with burns and other serious injuries – and sent to local hospitals.
West Fertilizer operates a fertilizer plant and sells its products to farmers – not too interesting by itself – unless you consider the fact that according to the WSJ the Environmental Protection Agency in 2006 fined West Fertilizer more than $2,000 for not implementing a risk-management plan.
And the trouble with not implementing a risk-management plan means that the people living nearby in the senior-living facility, the apartment complex, and the single-family homes in a residential neighborhood were all at risk if something like this happened. The number of injuries and deaths (although it’s too early to say how many people have died) was no doubt caused in part to how close the plant was to the populated area.
The explosion – which apparently registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake – rushed out over the neighborhood, sending debris into homes and the apartment complex. Many homes are said to be heavily damaged or destroyed.
It’s too early to draw any conclusions about what caused the fire and explosion, though the incident does indicate some kind of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of West Fertilizer. The EPA fine might be one example of that.