Texas lawsuit blames CF Industries in fertilizer blast

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The city of West, Texas, has filed a lawsuit against the owner of the fertilizer plant that exploded in April, as well as CF Industries, which supplied the ammonium nitrate that exploded.

This action follows the city not being promised federal or state aid to offset the $57 million for repairs, $40 million of which is claimed as needed to rebuild a school that was destroyed when the fertilizer plant exploded on April 17, killing 15 people and injuring 200. The city of West is seeking $17 million in damages for negligence and product liability, according to one report.

CF Industries was pulled into the lawsuit with the claimants using the argument that fertilizer shipments were improperly and dangerously stored and the fertilizer supplier should have recognized it. Additionally, the city is accusing the supplier of failing to properly inspect the fertilizer mixing facility to determine whether hazard mitigation was necessary or to provide recommendations for safe storage including failing to provide material safety data sheets.

The cause of the fire and explosion has not been determined by federal and state investigators.  

CF Industries has issued a statement claiming there is no basis for the lawsuit including the company and will seek dismissal of the lawsuit while “vigorously” defending itself.

FEMA has denied the town’s request for financial assistance with an explanation that the explosion and damage does not reach the criteria or magnitude of a major disaster. FEMA has provided about $5.6 million in emergency funds to individual residents, but it is refusing to provide assistance that would pay for public repairs on roads, sewer lines, pipes and the destroyed school. FEMA has further contended that private insurance is covering much of the costs and that FEMA is prohibited from paying for repair projects paid for under insurance.

Neither the state of Texas or regulatory agencies have been implicated by the town in the lawsuit. 

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