Rescuers search ruins of Texas fertilizer plant

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 03:57 PM.

Covar said no other complaints are on file since then, so there haven't been additional inspections.

"Given the size of the facility and the authorized emissions from the plant, generally those are inspected based on complaints," Covar said.

The Chemical Safety Board has not investigated a fertilizer plant explosion before, but Managing Director Daniel Horowitz said "fertilizers have been involved in some of the most severe accidents of the past century."

He noted the 2001 explosion at a chemical and fertilizer plant that killed 31 people and injured more than 2,000 in Toulouse, France. The blast in a hangar containing 300 tons of ammonium nitrate came 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, raising fears at the time that the two could be linked. A 2006 report blamed the blast on negligence.

Horowitz also mentioned a disaster in Texas City in 1947, when a fire in a cargo ship holding more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire and exploded, killing more than 500 people.



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