CSB board unanimously approves final fertilizer company report, recommendations
Posted February 10, 2016
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has unanimously approved a final report and recommendations concerning a 2013 fire and explosion at a fertilizer company in Texas that claimed 15 lives, over 260 injuries, and caused widespread community damage. The deadly fire and explosion occurred when about 30 tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate (FGAN) exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility.
The CSB’s investigation found that several factors contributed to the severity of the explosion, including poor hazard awareness and the fact that nearby homes and businesses were built in close proximity to the fertilizer company over the years prior to the accident. A stockpile of 40 to 60 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored at the facility in plywood bins on the night of the explosion. Although FGAN is stable under normal conditions, it can violently detonate when exposed to contaminants in a fire.
The CSB found that the volunteer fire department was not required to perform pre-incident planning for an ammonium nitrate-related emergency, nor were the volunteer firefighters required to attend training on responding to fires involving hazardous chemicals. As a result, the CSB made several safety recommendations to various stakeholders, including EPA, to better inform and train emergency responders on the hazards of FGAN and other hazardous chemicals.
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