Update 5:00 p.m.: As the fires subside, investigators are diligently working to uncover the causes of last night’s deadly explosion at a West Fertilizer Co. (West) plant in West, Texas. The number of injured and dead are still unconfirmed.
A report by West, which was filed with local officials and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the ammonia investigation of 2006, was leaked to the Dallas Morning News earlier today. In the emergency planning report, which is required by the EPA of all facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals, the company affirms that the West fertilizer plant posed no threat of fire or explosion.
In the investigation, West cited as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia in its inventory. But, it was discovered by the news station that the company answered “no” as to whether the plant was at risk for a fire or explosives. The company also reported that the worst possible risks would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas, which the company stated would not be harmful to workers.
This recently leaked emergency report could be a crucial piece of evidence in determining if the plant understated the risks of the work environment.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.