Monday, 16 July, 2018

Deadly West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion was 'Criminal Act'

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
Alfredo Watts | 26 May, 2016, 15:04

The deadly fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Tex., that killed more than a dozen people and injured hundreds in 2013 were intentionally set, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The ATF says after 400 interviews and scientific testing, "All viable accidental and natural fire scenarios were hypothesized, tested and eliminated". Roughly 300 people were injured, 12 of the 15 who died were emergency responders, and more than 500 homes were destroyed, almost wiping out half the town. Twelve of the 15 people who were killed were emergency responders. Among the places damaged in the blast were schools, an apartment complex and a nursing home where investigators said numerous people seriously injured in the blast had been living.

The plant had been a repeated target of theft, most notably by people involved in the methamphetamine trade. "No life deserves to be lost due to someone's stupidity, criminal mind set", said Kelly Pustejovsky, the widow of one of the firefighters killed, WFAA-TV reports. McLennan County district attorney Able Reyna, left. and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent Robert Elder, right, talk to reporters reporters during a press conference, Wednesday, May 11, 2.

CF Industries Holdings Inc., the largest US producer of nitrogen fertilizer, was sued by the city of West for the deadly explosion in a plant that the company supplied with ammonium nitrate.

"This was one of ATF's largest fire investigations, not just in money spent but in scope", said Elder. The fertilizer plant blast occurred on April 22 at 7:50 PM, killing volunteer fire fighters who were attempting to put out a fire reported earlier at the facility.

The fertilizer plant, owned by Adair Grain Company, exploded just 14 minutes after the first 911 call was placed.

The insurance-related losses from the blast were estimated to be around $230 million dollars, according to a report on the incident by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

A $52,000 reward is now being offered for any information leading to a suspect's arrest.

The ATF findings are likely to factor into the storm of litigation surrounding West Fertilizer and could prompt new lawsuits.

The explosion was caused by ammonium nitrate that was being manufactured at the plant.