Fire/Explosion Protection

Intentional Fire Caused West Fertilizer Blast

By Chemical Processing Staff

May 12, 2016

“The tragic ammonium nitrate explosion at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, that killed 15 people, injured more than 160, and damaged or destroyed more than 150 buildings is one example of a cataclysmic event that places the chemical industry under intense scrutiny.” This was the commentary Chemical Processing wrote about one year after the April 17, 2013 explosion (see "Learn from the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion.")

Chemical Processing columnist Dirk Willard wrote: “When the West Fertilizer Company [blew up] it must have taken Donald Adair, the owner of the plant, by surprise. In his 2011 emergency plan, Adair described the worst-case scenario for his plant as a 10-minute release of gas! Perhaps we chemical engineers don't appreciate the risks posed by dust as well as we do those of flammable fluids.” (See "Defuse Dust Dangers").

Recent news regarding the cause of the blast is once again shaking the Texas town. After conducting 400 interviews and lab work on evidence, investigators determined someone started the fire on purpose, officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said.

About 20 minutes after the fire broke out, the plant exploded with such force it caused a magnitude-2.1 earthquake.

According to a news report from CNN, authorities would not comment on whether they know of a suspect. But "we're headed in the right direction." The ATF is offering up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of whoever set the blaze.

Read the CNN story here.