Today is the 6 month anniversary of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, a disaster that destroyed a community, claimed 15 lives, and injured over 160 others. The West Fertilizer Company supplied chemicals to farmers since it was founded in 1962, and was last inspected by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in 1985.
In the aftermath of the explosion, the operator of the fertilizer plant was cited for 24 safety violations and charged $118,300 in penalties. Safety violations included exposing workers to explosion hazards and chemical burns, unsafe handling and storage of chemicals, failing to have an emergency response plan and not having an appropriate number of fire extinguishers.
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) reported that regulation of the dangerous chemicals used in the industry fall under shoddy standards that are dated and far weaker than standards in other countries. However, Texas, which has the country’s highest number of workplace fatalities, is still wary of regulations.
During the government shutdown 90% of CSB employees were furloughed, causing a delay in the investigation of the West, Texas disaster.