San Antonio and Texas Have Many Fertilizer Plants: San Antonio and Texas Have Many Potential West Fertilizer Risks
While we all continue to read about and think about the tragedy that happened in West, Texas three weeks ago, people living in other areas of Texas might want to consider the potential of such tragedies in their own back yard. The explosion at West Fertilizer on April 17 killed 15 people and injured nearly 200 people. It also seriously damaged a number of homes, at least one school, an apartment complex, a nursing home and a hospital, all in a com
Companies are required by Texas Department of State Health Services to report stockpiles of dangerous substances, so as to advise firefighters to potential hazards should they have to arrive at a site to fight a fire. According to that agency’s database of hazardous chemical inventories, the state of Texas can boast of at least 950 facilities that are storing either anhydrous ammonia or ammonium nitrate on site.
In the San Antonio area alone, including Bexar and surrounding counties, there are a total of 44 such facilities, including 38 companies that are storing anhydrous ammonia, much like West Fertilizer. In at least one instance, a company apparently stored an average amount of more than 150,000 lbs. of anhydrous ammonia daily last year. In a risk management plan filed in 2009, the company told the EPA that a worst case scenario would mean the accidental release of 3,850 lbs. of gas, and that the farthest the gas could travel would be 2.6 miles, which would affect more than 51,000 people. While anhydrous ammonia is not highly flammable, it can become a highly toxic gas when released into the atmosphere.
There are also several companies storing ammonium nitrate near San Antonio. Ammonium nitrate is used as both a fertilizer and an explosive. Amounts in excess of 400 pounds are supposed to be reported to the Department of Homeland Security. While West stored as much as 270 tons of the chemical at times, they never reported it.
In the San Antonio area, one explosives firm operates two sites that stored an average 90,000 lbs. and 140,000 lbs. of ammonium nitrate daily, while another company reported an average amount of nearly 180,000 lbs daily. But not all companies are treated the same. Explosives companies are required to maintain buffer zones and other standards for explosives companies, but the same regulations don’t apply to fertilizer companies that store the same chemicals.
If you or a loved one works in an industry that handles or stores ammonium nitrate or anhydrous ammonia, take time to learn about the dangers associated with these chemicals. Further, anyone who could potentially come in contact with a fire close to ammonium nitrate should be warned about the explosive potential so that deaths like those in West, Texas do not happen. Regulation regarding the storage, production, and purchase of ammonium nitrate should be a top government priority. If you have questions regarding this post, contact the Texas Plant Explosion Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm today.