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Theft, Tampering Rampant at West Fertilizer Co. Prior to Deadly Explosion

The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded on April 17th, killing 14 people and injuring nearly 200 others, was repeatedly targeted by intruders who tampered with tanks and caused the release of toxic anhydrous ammonia, police records show. Since 2001, police have responded to at least 11 reports of burglaries and five separate ammonia leaks at the West Fertilizer Co., some of which were linked to theft or interference with tank valves. Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used to cook methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant drug widely used in Texas and throughout the southern United States.

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?

According to a 2002 crime report reviewed by Reuters, a plant manager at the West Fertilizer Co. told police that four to five gallons of anhydrous ammonia were being stolen every three days. In rural areas around the country, the booming meth trade has turned fertilizer storage facilities into frequent targets of theft.

The cause of last month’s explosion is still being investigated, and authorities have offered no evidence that foul play was involved in the deadly incident. There is also nothing to indicate that the explosion had anything to do with the theft of chemicals for the production of meth. Anhydrous ammonia has been ruled out as a cause because the four storage tanks that housed it remained intact after the blast.

Authorities are investigating about 100 leads into the cause of the explosion, including a call to an arson hotline and a tip that there had been a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. earlier on the day of the blast. It is still not known whether either tip was credible. Dozens of investigators from various state and federal agencies are contributing to the investigation. They hope to determine what caused the explosion by May 10.

The theft of anhydrous ammonia is a common occurrence around the area of West, Texas. Burglars siphon the chemical from trailer tanks into propane containers.
After reviewing past crime reports and interviewing police officers who responded to the crimes, authorities believe it is clear that security at the plant was lax. There was no fence around the perimeter, and the facility had no burglar alarms or security guards.

“Regardless of what triggered this specific event, the fact that there were lots of burglaries and that they were after ammonia clearly shows this plant was vulnerable to unwanted intruders or even a terrorist attack,” said Sam Mannan, a chemical process safety expert at Texas A&M University, who has advised Dow Chemical and other major companies on chemical security.

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.

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