Environmental group pushes for tougher regulation around fertilizer plant safety standards
HomeHome > Blog > Environmental group pushes for tougher regulation around fertilizer plant safety standards

Environmental group pushes for tougher regulation around fertilizer plant safety standards

Aug 13, 2023

Next up in 5

Example video title will go here for this video

AUSTIN, Texas — Policymakers from federal, state and local governments promised changes following a 2013 deadly fertilizer plant fire in West, Texas. The fire at West Fertilizer Company killed 15 people and injured more than 260.

A report filed by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) showed more than $230 million in insurance-related losses, $16 million in federal disaster assistance. The company, meanwhile, carried only a $1 million insurance policy.

CSB issued more than a dozen safety recommendations to levels of government.

But a report released in April 2023 by Environmental Integrity Project showed four of the recommendations have not happened.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) inspects fertilizer plants once every two years.

The Texas Department of Insurance lists best practices for facilities storing and handling ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer. The list includes “store AN in a structurally sound building … do not store fuel-powered equipment in a building where AN is stored,” and “do not store AN within 3 feet of a building’s roof or support structures.”

In November 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a safety advisory to handle ammonium nitrate.

“Based on information gathered, agencies found that many facilities do not manage chemicals in a safe or secure manner,” the advisory shows.

That same month, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance published an enforcement alert showing the regulatory requirements for chemical warehouses and distribution facilities, such as fertilizer plants.

Regarding the fire at the fertilizer plant in Bartlett on Sunday night, the TCEQ provided the following statement:

"The fertilizer facility where the fire occurred last night in Bartlett is not an ammonium nitrate storage or production facility. When the program, Tier II, was moved to TCEQ, there was not a designated investigation frequency in statute or otherwise for ammonium nitrate facilities. TCEQ conducted investigations of all ammonium nitrate facilities during the program’s first year to assess compliance with Tier II reporting requirements. Following this initial assessment, TCEQ implemented a frequency to investigate each facility every two years."

Erica Proffer on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Erica Proffer on social media:KVUE on social media: