U.S. to levy fines in Texas plant explosion

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The U.S. government will fine a Texas fertilizer plant for 24 health and safety violations in connection with an April explosion that killed 14 people and injured hundreds, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California announced on Thursday.

The violations, which include the unsafe handling and storage of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, carry fines of more than $118,000, Boxer said.

Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a conference call with reporters that she was announcing the action because the statute of limitations on filing violations is approaching and could run out before the partial government shutdown ends. The investigation is continuing, she said, but has been delayed due to the shutdown of the federal government.

The April 17 blast at the West Fertilizer Co flattened homes and caused an estimated $100 million in damages to neighborhoods, businesses and schools in West, Texas, about 80 miles south of Dallas. The dead included 11 firefighters and other first responders who had rushed to contain a fire at the plant moments before the blast.

Ammonium nitrate is a dry fertilizer mixed with other fertilizers such as phosphate and applied to crops to promote growth. It can be combustible under certain conditions.


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Robert Moran    
Kerrville, Texas  |  October, 14, 2013 at 04:08 PM

I find it disturbing that fines are announced by a political influence, as opposed to the regulatory agency that is responsible for such investigations. This has all the earmarks of political interference in the systematic and fair application of law.

LARRY MURHY    
MANHATTAN, KS  |  October, 14, 2013 at 05:02 PM

Being sarcastic, hard to imagine Boxer playing politics with investigative matters!!! I think this is the same woman who was offended by a military officer addressing her as "Ma'am", the standard equivalent of sir in the military, in a hearing. All about her visibility!!

Doug Ross    
California  |  October, 14, 2013 at 06:41 PM

Every fertilizer company handles fertilizers and quite well for the most part as it is in their best interest to do so. The Government merely comes along after a disaster and dietermines that it is a disaster and a fine must be paid ... to the Government.

Bill Cisney    
Madisonville, Ky.  |  October, 14, 2013 at 08:45 PM

Boxer is another one of the Ca. idiot women politicians having just enough sense to get publicity.

larry doll    
indiana  |  October, 16, 2013 at 03:46 PM

I would like to know what criteria were used to come to these conclusions. Are they written rules? Or is this CYA kneejerk reaction?


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