It’s ironic that a substance used to help crops grow can also be lethal, but that seems to be the case with the explosion that killed 14 and injured 180 earlier this month in the small farming town of West, Texas. Since the tragedy, it has come to the public’s attention that the West Fertilizer Co. was harboring ‘substantial amounts’ of anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, volatile inorganic fertilizers suspected of causing the blast that demolished dozens of homes, a school, and a large apartment complex. Several lawsuits have already been filed against the owner of the plant, claiming that the company “was negligent in the operation of its facility, creating an unreasonably dangerous condition, which led to the fire and explosion.”
West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Update 5/7/13: Investigators have confirmed that a massive store of ammonium nitrate caused last month’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, Texas. However, the ignition source of the blast continues to remain a mystery. Click here to learn more.
Free West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawsuit Evaluation: Our law firm has already been contacted by residents of West, Texas, and are now currently representing a number of victims in the horrible tragedy. If you or somebody you know was harmed by this fertilizer plant explosion, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the companies responsible and we can help.
What’s the Problem?
Investigators have narrowed the likely culprits of April 17th’s West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion to anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. Anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas with suffocating fumes. When exposed to humans, it can cause dehydration and severe burns if it combines with water in the body. Symptoms of anhydrous ammonia exposure can include breathing difficulty, irritation of the eyes, nose or throat, as well as burns and blisters. Exposure to high concentrations over prolonged periods of time can lead to death.
Ammonium nitrate, on the other hand, is a gravel-like solid, making it far easier to handle and transport than anhydrous ammonia. However, when mixed with fuel and ignited, ammonium nitrate becomes an extremely powerful explosive. In fact, this type of fertilizer was the primary explosive used in the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. Bomber Timothy McVeigh and his accomplice Terry Nichols mixed forty 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate with a fuel called nitromethane and an explosive called Tovex to kill 168 people, level the federal building, and damage 324 others.
But in the case of the West, Texas tragedy, it seems something else served as fuel for the explosion. Firefighters responded to a fire on the premises of the West Fertilizer Co. just before 7:30 p.m., and the blast occurred 20 minutes later.
In a report filed by Texas regulators shortly before the accident, the plant’s so-called ‘worst-case scenario’ would be a 10-minute release of gas (most likely anhydrous ammonia) that would injure no one. If it were to be released into the atmosphere, it would dissipate so quickly that the worst it would cause would be temporary skin irritation and an unpleasant smell.
Of course we now know this scenario drastically underestimated the explosive potential of the massive amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the plant. Barring any criminal involvement, in which case all bets are off, ammonium nitrate now appears to be the more likely candidate for the force behind the explosion, even though the plant primarily stored anhydrous ammonia.
Do I Have a West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawsuit?
The Workplace and Environmental Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion Lawsuit Evaluation: Our law firm has already been contacted by residents of West, Texas, and are now currently representing a number of victims in the horrible tragedy. If you or somebody you know was harmed by this fertilizer plant explosion, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion suit and we can help.