West, Texas, Sues Nitrate Supplier and Fertilizer Plant over Deadly Explosion

Friday, June 28, 2013
Stephen Wilson, CEO of CF Industries

The explosion that devastated the city of West, Texas, on April 17 has resulted in a lawsuit against the owner of a fertilizer plant and the chemical company that supplied it with ammonium nitrate.


West claims supplier CF Industries sold two 100-ton shipments of agricultural-grade ammonium nitrate to Adair Grain dba West Fertilizer Company prior to the explosion that killed 15 people and flattened part of the town.


At the time of the explosion, the second shipment of chemicals was still in a railcar parked just outside Adair’s fertilizer mixing building. Inside that building was 30 tons of the ammonium nitrate not yet sold—which ignited after the building caught fire.


The city alleges that the supplier failed or refused to properly inspect the fertilizer mixing facility to determine whether “hazard mitigation was needed or to provide recommendations for safe storage of ammonium nitrate.”


The company was “in the best position to know and understand the full nature of the dangers of the product manufactured by them, made no effort to determine the risk to the community into which their product was shipped,” the complaint states. “Instead, they blindly sold hundreds of tone of hazardous ammonium nitrate to West Fertilizer Co. and delivered it to a facility located within a community of people, houses, parks, schools and a nursing home.”


The explosion damaged or destroyed more than 150 homes along with a high school, middle school, apartment complex and nursing home, according to the plaintiffs.


On June 14, less than two months after the West Fertilizer explosion, another CF Industries plant also suffered an explosion. This one in Donaldson, Louisiana, killed one worker and injured eight others.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

City Sues Fertilizer Plant & Nitrate Supplier (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)

Ammonium Nitrate: Dangerous Substance not Included in EPA List of Dangerous Substances (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

2 Fatal Chemical Plant Explosions in 2 Days in Louisiana (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Texas Fertilizer Company Hid Dangerous Materials from Regulators (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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