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West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10

 
Anonymous Coward
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05/02/2013 10:24 AM
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West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
The Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety hearing in Austin was held Wednesday. State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy and Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner hope to complete their onsite investigation. Article states there are now 80 working on the investigation instead of 70.

[link to www.kwtx.com]

The committee plans to hear testimony from representatives of state agencies with jurisdiction over such facilities including the Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management, Emergency Management Council, Office of the State Chemist, Commission on Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture, Department of State Health Services, and the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The force of the explosion damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and buildings including a nursing home, a two-story apartment complex and three of West’s schools, only one of which can be repaired, according to a report from a firm hired to assess the impact of the blast on the facilities.

[link to austin.ynn.com]

"Safety as far as the storing of the chemicals, I think this will give all state agencies the ability to go back and look at the rules they propagate," Homeland Security and Public Safety Chairman, Democrat Joe Pickett, said.

State agencies that help regulate the highly volatile ammonium nitrate were aware of the chemical stored at the plant.

Details released at the hearing also discredited early speculation that members of the volunteer fire department attacked the fire outside of proper procedure. First responders did everything correctly and according to their training, Connealy said.

Approximately 110,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia was also on-hand at the plant.

Investigators say that even after the blast, that chemical was found safely contained, so they do not believe it played a role in the fire or explosion. Statewide there are more 1,100 facilities like the West plant holding explosive compounds.

The state department of insurance says the amount of liability insurance on hand at the property was insufficient to cover the risk considering the amount of chemicals on hand.

It was also made public at the hearing that no local emergency plan was in place that would have told the proper authorities the amount and type of materials stored at the plant. In West, the community would fall under the McLennan County Plan. In comparison, Harris County has 17 such local planning groups.

They are comparing McLennan County to Harris County. Harris is Houston, so how does that compare?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/02/2013 10:43 AM
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In the previous articles, State Rep. Joe Pickett is democrat. Progress Texas, PAC, says it is a basic attitude of resisting the fed.

[link to www.kxan.com]

"We literally have to sift through all the soil — all the items that exploded out of the plant, collect those, try to reconstruct the facility," Connealy said. "We are well down that path. But (May 10) is an approximate date. Don't hold us to that."

"Everything will be touched. It will be analyzed and it will be looked at," he said.

Connealy said investigators are combing through a 14.9-acre area and compared the work to an archaeological dig. He said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has so far spent $500,000 on the investigation and expects that price tag to double.

Lawmakers hauled the fire marshal before the state House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee in the first hearing at the Capitol since the explosion. Leaders of several other state investigative and regulatory agencies also testified about their role monitoring the West plant and similar facilities statewide.

State Rep. Joe Pickett, chairman of the committee, began the two-hour hearing with a moment of silence for the West victims. He emphasized several times that the purpose of the meeting wasn't to point fingers but instead learn how the state stays on tops of similar facilities that store dangerous materials.

That did not stop others from criticizing the regulations, or lack thereof, in place.

"You have a basic Texas attitude of resisting federal government," said Jim Moore with Progress Texas, a political action committee.

The explosion has spawned at least six lawsuits, including one from the family of a volunteer firefighter killed in the blast. Also suing are two insurance companies, a nursing home resident and a West couple.
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05/02/2013 11:00 AM
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[link to www.kvue.com]

The finding raises serious questions regarding the decision to send first responders into a potentially explosive situation.

The LEPC's job, is to "develop an emergency response plan, review it at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to the citizens," the act reads.

McLennan County Emergency Operations Coordinator Frank Patterson said he has no knowledge of an emergency planning committee or any meetings with officials in West about potential risks in the community.

After requesting any evidence of LEPC operations, meetings, plans of actions or plans for evacuations, especially with respect to hazards posed at the fertilizer company in West, Patterson's office said no such information exists.

Neither Patterson nor the McLennan County Judge would speak on camera. Both say they have been too busy helping the victims of West. The State Fire Marshal's Office on Friday released a statement saying no actions taken by the firefighters in any way contributed to the explosion.

[link to www.kvue.com]

WEST, Texas — Three members of Air Evac Lifeteam 51 in West, Texas are back at work and remembering what happened two weeks ago when the town's fertilizer plant caught fire and exploded.

Their air medical base sits about a quarter of a mile from the plant.

Crew members Lee LeMay, Angela Bryce and Les Kleine were on duty and standing outside when the plant exploded.

"Loudest thing I've heard since Vietnam," said LeMay, the pilot.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/02/2013 02:34 PM
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Feels like I'm bumping my own thread, as interest appears to have waned considerably, but another piece of info to add.

[link to www.mysanantonio.com]

Investigators have closely guarded their findings so far and have offered no hint at a possible cause.

Connealy announced the soft deadline — the first time investigators have set a timetable since the April 17 blast — while testifying during a packed special legislative hearing in the Capitol.

Missing from the crowded room appeared to be anyone from tiny and rural West. The state House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee only allowed testimony from leaders of state agencies, including health officials who identified more than 40 other fertilizer blending facilities similar in size and purpose to the one in West.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told lawmakers there are more than 1,100 facilities statewide that store ammonium nitrate. He also reiterated to lawmakers there is no information suggesting that criminal or terrorist activity is behind the explosion.

But Kelly Kistner, the assistant state fire marshal, said investigators have not shut those possibilities.

"A criminal act has not been eliminated," he said.
luckyophelia

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05/02/2013 03:14 PM
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hey im from TX and interested. ill give you a bump AC. good info to know. thanks for the research and for posting!!
hf

bump
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/02/2013 03:57 PM
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hey im from TX and interested. ill give you a bump AC. good info to know. thanks for the research and for posting!!
hf

bump
 Quoting: luckyophelia


hf Thank you. Maybe the waning interest is partially due to how fast threads roll here. Plus I didn't stick with my own rule of West, TX for info easy search.
luckyophelia

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05/02/2013 04:17 PM
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ill add you to my personal pins and check back here on the 10th :)
KarinZa

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05/02/2013 05:04 PM
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Ditto!!!!
"I may be paranoid, but not an android."
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/02/2013 06:30 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
hf Thank you both, will continue to add info to this thread. Whomever gave the stars, thank you also. 2nd story gives a more accurate count of damaged homes.

[link to www.kxan.com]

“The coordination can be a challenge,” said Kistner about the 29 agencies involved in the investigation. “A lot of the problems we have been running into is just the magnitude of the debris field and how far out debris has been found from the blast.”

The work is complex for several reasons: the magnitude of the blast at West Fertilizer, which knocked out windows and rooftops all over the tiny town of West and registered as a small earthquake; the deaths of 10 first responders and two others who volunteered to help; and the spread of debris as far as two miles away.

[link to www.kwtx.com]

Of the 156 homes in the neighborhood, only three are fit for habitation, officials said.

In all, there are about 350 homes in the 37-block area of West affected by the massive fertilizer plant explosion.
Anonymous Coward
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05/03/2013 12:01 AM
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I am very pleased to see this post OP. I have been reading and commenting in all of the West threads as I see them. I am so very happy to see something somewhat "official" that says the firefighters were well within their protocol. We laid one if these great men to rest today. He has been fighting fires for 16 years on a volunteer basis and has been farming since childhood so he was very familiar with the chemicals stored at that facility. I knew all along he knew what he knew what he was doind. Not only did he follow protocol, but surviving EMS reported to his family that he had already saved 4 people from the burning building and was headed back when the explosion happened. So, not only did he follow protocol, but he was a hero. It was an honor to know him and call him a friend. I hope and pray that we will know the truth about what happened that day, but he was a hero no matter what happened that day. I have a newly found deep respect for these men who volunteer to protect their small communities. Words just can't describe it. I hope you all seek and find the truth in all of your pursuits of knowledge.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/03/2013 01:41 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
I am very pleased to see this post OP. I have been reading and commenting in all of the West threads as I see them. I am so very happy to see something somewhat "official" that says the firefighters were well within their protocol. We laid one if these great men to rest today. He has been fighting fires for 16 years on a volunteer basis and has been farming since childhood so he was very familiar with the chemicals stored at that facility. I knew all along he knew what he knew what he was doind. Not only did he follow protocol, but surviving EMS reported to his family that he had already saved 4 people from the burning building and was headed back when the explosion happened. So, not only did he follow protocol, but he was a hero. It was an honor to know him and call him a friend. I hope and pray that we will know the truth about what happened that day, but he was a hero no matter what happened that day. I have a newly found deep respect for these men who volunteer to protect their small communities. Words just can't describe it. I hope you all seek and find the truth in all of your pursuits of knowledge.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 8678400


hf Hugs and thank you so much for posting. I think this is truly the 1st personal post I've seen in the threads. So many I couldn't keep up with them or lost track of them. Had to walk away for a moment, felt the teary eye coming on. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend and the loss his family is feeling. For everyone that has been touched by this disaster, my heart goes out to them.hf
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[link to www.nbcdfw.com]

Dated May 2

Authorities have not yet begun to sift through an approximately 90-foot-wide crater left by the blast , assistant state fire marshal Kelly Kistner said. On Thursday, teams were sifting through dirt at the former site of an administrative building next to the crater.

"This is planting season. This is fertilizing season," Kistner said. "This is a busy, busy time for this facility right here. So they were constantly turning product, tons a day, out of this facility."

Officials would not reveal all of the technology they are using, but said the process could continue after a previously set May 10 target date.Officials defended the amount of time they were taking to finish the investigation, saying they owed it to the victims of the blast to take their time, and criticized speculation about the blast.

"It's not becoming a distraction to the investigation, but I think it's a distraction to the public and to the people, and the families of the people, who lost their lives here," Kistner said. Because you've got a lot of people running around trying to tell people what happened, but they're not down here to have the facts and the evidence to know what happened."

[link to dfw.cbslocal.com]
dated Apr 29

no accusations or charges have been leveled against the company.

The CBS-11 I-Team spoke with the owner of the company, Donald Adair, by phone late Monday afternoon.

Regarding the Department of Homeland Security, Adair said, “I don’t want to comment. But there is a lot of wrong information out there. A lot of what the media is reporting is wrong information.”

He says his attorneys have advised him not to say anything.

Adair says, they won’t let him back on the grounds just yet, and he says he is “still not sleeping at night.”

[link to www.dallasnews.com]
Updated May 2

(This is a long article and I was very picky.)

Terrorist attacks

Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said the key to safety at similar facilities is an informed local government and public. But state officials also said fears of terrorist attacks make them cautious about sharing information.

Bennett Sandlin, executive director of the Texas Municipal League, said it’s unrealistic to expect small cities like West to have the resources or manpower to develop sophisticated systems and plans.

“You’ve got to realize that some small towns are even lucky to have a volunteer fire department,” Sandlin said.

TCEQ permits

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality chairman Bryan Shaw said his agency also handles some permits for plants like the one in West. He said the TCEQ looks only at the dangers chemicals pose during normal business operations. The plant was closed when the fire started.
Federal agencies were not part of Wednesday’s hearing. Neither were officials from West.

In West ...

Some residents said they never thought to ask because the plant was part of the neighborhood.

[link to thescoopblog.dallasnews.com]
dated May 1

about possible dangers of chemicals stored in nearby facilities falls to local officials. “It’s a local up,” DPS Director Steve McCraw said during a legislative hearing in Austin. “It’s not a state down.”
State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, who chairs the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, said the hearing was not about getting involved in the investigation into the fire and explosion’s causes.

An official with the Texas Department of State Health Services said that agency identified at least 41 other facilities in Texas that store or hold large quantities of ammonium nitrate. More facilities could have the chemical, but they are not required to report less than 10,000 pounds because the Environmental Protection Agency does not consider it extremely dangerous.

[link to www.dallasnews.com]
Apr 30

Also Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, will investigate the West explosion to determine what happened and how better regulation could prevent future disasters.

Explanation sought

Boxer sent questions to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is on the scene, and the Environmental Protection Agency. She asked the EPA to explain how it handles companies’ required disclosures of chemical risks, suggesting that she suspects the agency might not have followed through on West Fertilizer’s report and others around the country.

“I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas, and the tragic loss of life,” Boxer said in a news release.

Boxer gave the federal agencies until May 16 to answer her questions. She said she would schedule a hearing soon.
Anonymous Coward
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05/03/2013 09:25 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
I am very pleased to see this post OP. I have been reading and commenting in all of the West threads as I see them. I am so very happy to see something somewhat "official" that says the firefighters were well within their protocol. We laid one if these great men to rest today. He has been fighting fires for 16 years on a volunteer basis and has been farming since childhood so he was very familiar with the chemicals stored at that facility. I knew all along he knew what he knew what he was doind. Not only did he follow protocol, but surviving EMS reported to his family that he had already saved 4 people from the burning building and was headed back when the explosion happened. So, not only did he follow protocol, but he was a hero. It was an honor to know him and call him a friend. I hope and pray that we will know the truth about what happened that day, but he was a hero no matter what happened that day. I have a newly found deep respect for these men who volunteer to protect their small communities. Words just can't describe it. I hope you all seek and find the truth in all of your pursuits of knowledge.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 8678400


hf Hugs and thank you so much for posting. I think this is truly the 1st personal post I've seen in the threads. So many I couldn't keep up with them or lost track of them. Had to walk away for a moment, felt the teary eye coming on. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend and the loss his family is feeling. For everyone that has been touched by this disaster, my heart goes out to them.hf
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 18021299


Thank you hf Just keep doing what you're doing, looking for the Truth.

Sorry for my typos, yesterday was a rough day. I am so grateful to have had the honor of attending a hero's funeral; it was beautiful service. Sorry if my ID# changed, I am using a different device because I got banned after my last post. Keep on keeping on, friend.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/03/2013 01:54 PM
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Not worried about anyone's typos, especially in a discussion forum. Most of the time I can figure it out, if not and want to know what was meant, will ask. The typos that irritate me are usually made by press articles, or published books.

Next is the latest I found.
[link to www.kvue.com]

The top emergency management official in McLennan County made a series of sobering admissions Thursday.

Among other things, McLennan County Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said he was not aware of the explosive levels of chemicals being stored at the West Fertilizer Company. He also said he never met with West city officials about a potential disaster at the fertilizer facility.

What started out as a news conference designed to discredit a series of News 8 investigative reports, quickly went south for Patterson. Before it was over, he would admit his office was not prepared for the worst in West.

Patterson was asked if he was aware the warehouse full of ammonium nitrate could explode.

"If you're asking me, sitting here right now? No," Patterson said.

Next, was Patterson aware of a major threat at the facility, as was indicated on Tier Two chemical reports submitted by the plant owner to his office?

"With the amount of Tier Two reports that come through my office, I do not read every one of them," Patterson said. "They are forwarded to first responders. Again, I don't read every one of those."

Ultimately, Patterson admitted that he did not act on the information supplied to him by the facility in West or warn the community of a potential threat.

"There's no doubt this is not a perfect system," Patterson said.

Patterson left the news conference without showing reporters any evidence that McLennan County's LEPC exists, despite cradling a folder stacked with documents that he repeatedly referred to as important LEPC documents. Again, we repeatedly asked that he show us what information he was possessing.

(Frank Patterson was under the gun defending his position at the hearing and to the press questions. Above article did not include the next, which I've read in some articles, maybe have linked them in this thread. It is local up, which the state fire marshal and assistant repeated during the Austin hearing.)
[link to www.dallasnews.com]

But Patterson said he did know before the explosion that West and its volunteer fire department had plans in place in case of an incident at the plant. City, county and state leaders have not detailed those plans but have credited them with preventing more deaths.

“We were trained,” said West Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek. “We were ready — as ready as you can be.”

Vanek declined to give details about that training.

Some of West’s volunteer firefighters, city officials and other residents went door to door evacuating people as a fire raged at the plant on April 17, Patterson and McLennan County Commissioner Will Jones said.

Those people continued evacuating residents after the fire triggered the explosion that killed 15 people, injured more than 200 others and damaged hundreds of houses in the small community that nuzzles Interstate 35 about 80 miles south of Dallas.

“If some coordination had not occurred, they would not have started that evacuation,” Patterson said.
Patterson serves as the planning committee’s administrative head, a role that makes up a fraction of his responsibilities as the Waco-McLennan County emergency operations coordinator.

The chemical reports that Patterson receives were also sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services. They are also required to go to local fire departments, but it’s unclear if the West volunteer department received a copy.

Patterson said if the state health department had concerns about the amount of the chemical at the plant, it didn’t pass them on.

Members of the Texas House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday questioned officials from several state agencies. The responses revealed a patchwork system of oversight. Among other things, the testimony made clear that Texas cities are not required to have local standards on how potentially dangerous chemicals are kept and that the state has none of its own.

On Thursday, Patterson apologized. The West City Council appointed him the city’s emergency coordinator to help deal with the aftermath of the explosion. He’s spent every day since the blast helping the still-grieving city to heal.

“I’m trying to get West back together,” he said.

West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund to help centralize and manage donations.

All money will go directly toward assisting residents and relief efforts. So far, the fund has raised $270,000. That doesn’t include donations that were initially made to local banks or money from fundraisers held immediately after the explosion. City officials hope those accounts will funnel into the main fund. (This morning another article stated $300,000 is now in that fund. Some of the destroyed single family homes were rentals and the renters are still under lease, even though they are displaced.)

“This is a great marriage with them, and we are honored and proud that they are working with us on this,” Vanek, the mayor pro tem, said Thursday.

President Barack Obama also has approved expanded disaster relief. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it will now allow direct assistance to individuals and households, including grants for temporary housing, home repairs and medical, dental and funeral expenses.

The direct assistance was requested by Gov. Rick Perry. FEMA already was providing financial aid for emergency work to protect lives, property, public health and safety.

(Bare bones article, which made it hard to select for 50%. I've not seen one mention of eminent domain, just the people planning on rebuilding. The couple in below article live a couple of blocks from the plant. I've seen a couple of other interviews that have said the same thing, about the plant owner, as this couple.)
[link to www.kxan.com]

Hard hats are now recommended at the West, Texas home where the Zahirniak family has lived for more than 40 years.

“They told us to wear them because the rafters in the house are getting so bad,” said Beulah Zahirniak as she put on a white helmet.

Her home is still standing.

Barely.

Bricks have been peeled off one wall, the roof is about to cave in, and Willie Zahirniak thinks a storm, or even a strong gust of wind might bring all of it tumbling down.

“It sort of knocked us out,” said Willie.

West, Texas Disaster Relief Efforts Fund. The fund has been endorsed by the West city council as the recommended fund for all contributions and donations.for general assistance, firefighter relief, or victims directly impacted by the explosion.

Willie and Beulah say they do not believe in the lawsuits filed against the plant owner.

“He is a good man,” said Willie.
luckyophelia

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05/03/2013 05:56 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
wow!

bump
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/03/2013 10:50 PM
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cool2 Figured the news would start dying down after the hearing, but reporters might be widening their search. More info than I've copied over. This one is a wtf-kinda-thing, in 2009 a couple of intruders were reported, but the only things missing were a lock and a box of Oreos. (munchies?)

[link to www.kxan.com]

West Fertilizer plant targeted by thieves in past
Deputies called more than 10 times in 11 years

Sheriff's deputies were called more than 10 times to West Fertilizer in the 11 years before an April 17 blast that killed 14 people, injured 200 and leveled part of the tiny town of West, according to McLennan County sheriff's office files released through an open-records request. Multiple calls involved suspicion that anhydrous ammonia was being stolen.

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Fire Marshal's office, which is investigating the explosion, said the anhydrous ammonia tanks stored at West Fertilizer at the time of the blast appeared to have no scorch marks or any sign that they were part of a blast that left a crater more than 90 feet wide.

Matt Cawthon, the chief deputy sheriff in McLennan County, said in an interview Friday that anhydrous ammonia theft calls had declined in recent years, as had the number of meth labs authorities have busted as Mexican drug cartels are smuggling in more of the drug.

"The thefts ... and the reports for law enforcement assistance in that area, in my estimation, were minor and were petty," Cawthon said.

There were no reports that ammonium nitrate had been stolen from the plant, Cawthon said.

"If ammonium nitrate had been stolen ... then that report would have generated probably a lot of attention," he said.

West Fertilizer did not have a fence or security guards, and just one security camera was installed, Cawthon said. Besides the costs of adding security, the plant was often visited after hours by farmers needing fertilizer.

"If the owner was to spend that money to make this a fortress, it would decrease his business because the farmers can't come and go," Cawthon said.
Anonymous Coward
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
I find it curious that they keep citing that they were aware of the "dangerous levels of explosive chemicals at that facility", but yet they keep saying that the ammonium nitrate was NOT responsible for the blast (and by itself, is not explosive). Double speak is what all that is.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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I find it curious that they keep citing that they were aware of the "dangerous levels of explosive chemicals at that facility", but yet they keep saying that the ammonium nitrate was NOT responsible for the blast (and by itself, is not explosive). Double speak is what all that is.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 39313456


I'm not so sure now that ammonium nitrate has been ruled out completely. At the beginning of the investigation, the anhydrous ammonia tanks and the rail car w/ammonium nitrate turned on its side from the blast, were ruled out as cause. Don't recall reading anything officially that might have been in the building that was on fire, just they were trying to figure out all of the different chemicals at the plant. Chances are all that paperwork was in one of those buildings, unless there was another set offsite. If not, it will have to be reconstructed. The Austin hearing articles gave the idea the questioners kept thinking ammonium nitrate, while the state fire marshal and assistant weren't saying, except its still a crime scene basically. I've not seen a real number for the amount of ammonium nitrate, mainly the number most often mentioned was a Feb. total. Patterson said the plant had been busy with farmers coming in for supplies. I live in Caldwell Cnty, and seeds were being planted here in Feb, some fields are still being planted, but West is approx 150 mi further north. The plant was 60 yr old and not one person, officials to townsfolk, thought something like this could/would happen. The State Chemist, Herrmann, is on record saying this plant has a better record than others that are this size. I've seen quite a few numbers batted around, so not sure how many plants (all sizes) are in TX, but do remember one of the Dallas articles saying the other the size of this plant is somewhere in the Panhandle. The double speak appears to be happening between those investigating vs the hearing officials and reporters. Something Adair (plant owner) said, even though his lawyers had advised him to not say anything, was the media had been giving some false information. What is the false information?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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This article says testimony stated West had more than 230 tons of fertilizer in storage. Don't know how much the rail car held or stored in one of the tanks.

[link to www.kwtx.com]
dated May 3 (got busy yesterday and only checked 1 site for info, so missed this one)

Now producers in McLennan County and several surrounding counties have to look to other suppliers to provide the products they need to ensure both a bountiful harvest and their own livelihoods.

"There's a void there, a big void," said Norman Divin, at Crop Production Services, in Hillsboro, a national company with several outlets in Texas.

"Believe me, it’s going to be hard to fill," Divin said. He has hired two employees who worked at the West, mainly because of the increase in business he is experiencing after the explosion.

West Fertilizer was the area's major purveyor of agricultural products such as anhydrous ammonia and dry nitrogen fertilizers.

Testimony offered Tuesday at a Texas House of Representatives hearing into the disaster indicated at the time of the deadly fire and explosion, West Fertilizer had more than 230 tons of fertilizer in storage.

Divin said his company already has seen several producers who are looking for fertilizer of one type or another and he's trying to serve them.

But CPS in Hillsboro is not a "dry barn," he said.

That means his company does not handle large amounts of dry nitrogen fertilizer like West Fertilizer did.

The West fertilizer plant had major agricultural customers in McLennan, Hill, Navarro and Limestone counties, plus other in more far-ranging locations.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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Spotted this article earlier and see its being picked up elsewhere. In case of interest, including it here. Other articles have said the estimated explosion damage could be $100 million.

[link to www.kvue.com]

Atty: Texas plant that blew up carried $1M policy
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05/04/2013 08:24 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
Not sure how to word the ideas that have been forming since reading the article about the farmers now having to search for another source of fertilizer. Kinda like a pinball machine of thoughts, or non-cohesive speculation if you will, circulating through. Will attempt to make sense. Might not belong in this thread to do with the investigation/media information, but I've seen many threads branch all over the place off theme, and wondering if others might have some of these questions surfacing.

The investigation might be completed the 10th, but that is onsite only from the sound of it. The rest of it could take months from what was said earlier by investigators. Industrial accident, theft, arson, or no conclusion could be some of the possible decisions. The state fire marshals part of the investigation sounds like they are after the truth, so I'm not questioning them, just the areas that kept popping up in my mind earlier. The possibility of industrial espionage has not been thought of or mentioned, and may not be the case. Then why would someone choose that route and how would they gain, because there would have to be a financial gain for them to take that chance.

If they aren't able to finish, or even start the planting, its going to hurt the farmer on up. As stated, fertilizing is a year-round here. Around me I've seen 3 sets of crops come out of the same field each year, but I'd be guessing as to where their supplier is located, and doubt very much its the West plant. Crop rotation, most do, while others don't (usually that's feed corn). Next year crops depend on this year crops, unless they are accepting gov payments to not plant. I forget what year this went into effect, but farmers are not allowed to keep seed back for next years crops. What happens if the farmers can't pay their bills or purchase next year seeds? Crop failure, etc? Yeah I have a good idea of the easy answers, but not sure how it all works now. For some reason the idea of what happened during the dust bowl crops up, even though this is nothing like what happened back then.

Right now there are 2 House Bills in committee. HB2748 and HB3547. Brought about because of TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline, so both of these bills are Eminent Domain. Even though its about that pipeline, the outcome of whichever bill makes it through, will effect all of Texas. 2748 removes our right as individual property owners, so a company would be in position to condemn it. Most people do not have the finances to go up against the companies intruding. 3547 gives individual property owners more protection and at least 1 public hearing. They were filed 1 day apart. 2748 has the faster track by days. Don't know how long it takes from committee to the House floor, or if the oil & gas lobby can push it faster. Granted oil & gas started 2748, but would open it to corporations other than. Just something to think about.

[link to www.capitol.state.tx.us]
removes our right as individual property owners for a public hearing, so most would not be able to financially fight them. Companies/corporations would be in position to condemn properties.
[link to www.capitol.state.tx.us]
This one gives property owners more protection and at least 1 public hearing.
Filed 1 day apart, but HB2748 has the days-faster track through committee.

The Monsanto lawsuit was the former owner, Placek, so current owner, Adair was not part of that. Lawsuit won't be going anywhere, Monsanto knew they had the upper hand due to age. The corporation has pulled criminal shenanigans before, now they are embedded in the current admin, and have been protected against lawsuits. I don't trust them, haven't for years, so of course they come to mind for me. My thoughts could be so off track, so I need to stop the pinball mish-mash with others ideas.

Just wondering what's up is all and not part of the above ideas. Definitely a different thread, but I'd rather not start another thread myself. Obama will be in Austin this coming Thurs. [link to www.keyetv.com] Not a fundraiser, which has been the usual case until this past month. Glad he made a showing for West, but the switch gives me a strange feeling. Immigration, gun control, WH hasn't given a clue except speech. KEYE-TV speculated immigration.
Anonymous Coward
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05/04/2013 10:05 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
I find it curious that they keep citing that they were aware of the "dangerous levels of explosive chemicals at that facility", but yet they keep saying that the ammonium nitrate was NOT responsible for the blast (and by itself, is not explosive). Double speak is what all that is.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 39313456


I'm not so sure now that ammonium nitrate has been ruled out completely. At the beginning of the investigation, the anhydrous ammonia tanks and the rail car w/ammonium nitrate turned on its side from the blast, were ruled out as cause. Don't recall reading anything officially that might have been in the building that was on fire, just they were trying to figure out all of the different chemicals at the plant. Chances are all that paperwork was in one of those buildings, unless there was another set offsite. If not, it will have to be reconstructed. The Austin hearing articles gave the idea the questioners kept thinking ammonium nitrate, while the state fire marshal and assistant weren't saying, except its still a crime scene basically. I've not seen a real number for the amount of ammonium nitrate, mainly the number most often mentioned was a Feb. total. Patterson said the plant had been busy with farmers coming in for supplies. I live in Caldwell Cnty, and seeds were being planted here in Feb, some fields are still being planted, but West is approx 150 mi further north. The plant was 60 yr old and not one person, officials to townsfolk, thought something like this could/would happen. The State Chemist, Herrmann, is on record saying this plant has a better record than others that are this size. I've seen quite a few numbers batted around, so not sure how many plants (all sizes) are in TX, but do remember one of the Dallas articles saying the other the size of this plant is somewhere in the Panhandle. The double speak appears to be happening between those investigating vs the hearing officials and reporters. Something Adair (plant owner) said, even though his lawyers had advised him to not say anything, was the media had been giving some false information. What is the false information?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 18021299


I believe at the time he was referring to media outlets saying there were explosive chemicals there. Ammonium nitrate is merely an oxidizer and must be thoroughly mixed with a fuel such as diesel to be explosive.

Just like this article states "And the explosion’s fuel was, in all likelihood, many tons of ammonium nitrate. The crater and the pattern of destruction say so." but then later states "If the blasting material had been ANFO — the explosive ammonium nitrate and fuel oil mixture used across the world by industries and terrorists — carving such a crater through the equivalent of hard rock would have required a sphere on the surface weighing 800 tons, Holsapple said."

This clearly states ANFO which is ammonium nitrate FUEL OIL, not ammonium nitrate alone and would require 800 tons. According to documents filed with the DSHS there were only 270 tons of ammonium nitrate in late February stored at that facility and it is against OSHA regulation to store ammonium nitrate with any types of fuel oils because of the explosive nature of the two when mixed.

"While visual evidence is not conclusive, it appears that the fire did not consume the building the company called the fertilizer plant, where dry fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate was received, stored and mixed. If true, that might leave heat from the fire as the trigger."

Just after this explosion all of my research was coming back saying that a fuel is required to be mixed with ammonium nitrate for it to become explosive, but now every where I look it says that extreme temperatures are enough to cause it to explode. I think the disinformation has begun.


[link to www.dallasnews.com]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/05/2013 12:09 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
I find it curious that they keep citing that they were aware of the "dangerous levels of explosive chemicals at that facility", but yet they keep saying that the ammonium nitrate was NOT responsible for the blast (and by itself, is not explosive). Double speak is what all that is.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 39313456


I'm not so sure now that ammonium nitrate has been ruled out completely. At the beginning of the investigation, the anhydrous ammonia tanks and the rail car w/ammonium nitrate turned on its side from the blast, were ruled out as cause. Don't recall reading anything officially that might have been in the building that was on fire, just they were trying to figure out all of the different chemicals at the plant. Chances are all that paperwork was in one of those buildings, unless there was another set offsite. If not, it will have to be reconstructed. The Austin hearing articles gave the idea the questioners kept thinking ammonium nitrate, while the state fire marshal and assistant weren't saying, except its still a crime scene basically. I've not seen a real number for the amount of ammonium nitrate, mainly the number most often mentioned was a Feb. total. Patterson said the plant had been busy with farmers coming in for supplies. I live in Caldwell Cnty, and seeds were being planted here in Feb, some fields are still being planted, but West is approx 150 mi further north. The plant was 60 yr old and not one person, officials to townsfolk, thought something like this could/would happen. The State Chemist, Herrmann, is on record saying this plant has a better record than others that are this size. I've seen quite a few numbers batted around, so not sure how many plants (all sizes) are in TX, but do remember one of the Dallas articles saying the other the size of this plant is somewhere in the Panhandle. The double speak appears to be happening between those investigating vs the hearing officials and reporters. Something Adair (plant owner) said, even though his lawyers had advised him to not say anything, was the media had been giving some false information. What is the false information?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 18021299


I believe at the time he was referring to media outlets saying there were explosive chemicals there. Ammonium nitrate is merely an oxidizer and must be thoroughly mixed with a fuel such as diesel to be explosive.

Just like this article states "And the explosion’s fuel was, in all likelihood, many tons of ammonium nitrate. The crater and the pattern of destruction say so." but then later states "If the blasting material had been ANFO — the explosive ammonium nitrate and fuel oil mixture used across the world by industries and terrorists — carving such a crater through the equivalent of hard rock would have required a sphere on the surface weighing 800 tons, Holsapple said."

This clearly states ANFO which is ammonium nitrate FUEL OIL, not ammonium nitrate alone and would require 800 tons. According to documents filed with the DSHS there were only 270 tons of ammonium nitrate in late February stored at that facility and it is against OSHA regulation to store ammonium nitrate with any types of fuel oils because of the explosive nature of the two when mixed.

"While visual evidence is not conclusive, it appears that the fire did not consume the building the company called the fertilizer plant, where dry fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate was received, stored and mixed. If true, that might leave heat from the fire as the trigger."

Just after this explosion all of my research was coming back saying that a fuel is required to be mixed with ammonium nitrate for it to become explosive, but now every where I look it says that extreme temperatures are enough to cause it to explode. I think the disinformation has begun.


[link to www.dallasnews.com]
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 39313456


Thank you for explaining and the article!! The 1st time I've seen a graphic showing crater location inside the north end of the building. May have read it before, but it didn't set in without the visual. Good article. From the 1 video I saw the view from the east side of the plant, it definitely looked like the office was on fire. I think this is the 1st time I've read someone else saying it looked like the office, because of the scorch marks around where a building used to stand. If the fire was so intense to be the trigger for something inside a different building, how could the firefighters be as close as they were?
Granted, the buildings don't appear to be very far away from each other. Then 2 of the bodies were found between the buildings.

Need to correct something I said in another comment. Industrial sabotage instead of espionage. Major difference there for a brain fart. Realized what I'd written about 30 min after, but decided to not post a correction comment just for that alone.

Think it was maybe my 2nd or 3rd post in this thread when I began to wonder why I'd started it. Now I'm glad, because I'm beginning to gain some understanding.
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05/05/2013 12:49 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
Was searching for temperature intensity ammonium nitrate. Well, when all those chem sites popped up, knew I had to change my search. So, this is from an ag site and seems to back up your information.

[link to nasdonline.org]

Ammonium Nitrate

Like other inorganic nitrates, ammonium nitrate is an oxidizing agent and will increase the intensity of fire. All grades of ammonium nitrate can be detonated if they are in the proper crystalline form, if the initiating source is sufficiently large or if they are heated under sufficient confinement. The degree of confinement necessary usually is greatest for the purest material.

Storage recommendations for bagged and bulk ammonium nitrate are published in NFPA No. 490, "Code for the Storage of Ammonium Nitrate." The standard covers building construction, pile sizes, spacing and separation of ammonium nitrate from contaminating material that could increase its sensitivity during a fire. Also covered are flow, cleanliness of the storage area and precautions against ignition sources.

Fire fighting procedures for ammonium nitrate should include:

Approach the fire from the upwind side. Use a self-contained breathing apparatus (vapors from decomposing ammonium nitrate are extremely toxic).
Create as much ventilation as possible to permit smoke, gases and heat to escape and to prevent pressure build-up.
Flood the burning ammonium nitrate with water to rapidly reduce the temperature of the burning material.
Because ammonium nitrate is an oxidizing material (decomposes under certain conditions to yield oxygen and increase a fire's intensity), smothering agents such as inert gases, steam, foam, dry chemicals or sand will have no effect.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/05/2013 01:54 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
Google sat view. Looks like there is approx 25 ft + between the office and fertilizer buildings. On the office building, it looks like there might have been an open covered area, along the side of the building. Comparing the width of the passenger vehicles, 3 times the width. I used a regular paperclip for measurement. Smoke and fire are blowing over the north end of the fertilizer building, or between the building and grain storage tank.

[link to www.safework.sa.gov.au]
2 pages of storage information.

AN (ammonium nitrate) sold for fertiliser is the same substance as AN sold for use as an explosive. The explosive grade is a lower density prilled material designed to absorb fuel.

Whenever AN passes 32 C (90 F) it undergoes a crystal change known as thermal cycling. It results in the prill breaking down, caking and becoming less useful as an explosive as it cannot absorb fuel

Storage
Keep ammonium nitrate dry as the risk of explosion increases once the product becomes caked.

Store ammonium nitrate away from combustible materials by a
distance of at least 8 metres (26 ft) or use a barrier of inert material of at least 1.5 metres (5 ft) width.

I pause and expand the screen. view of fire from the east side. Fire does not touch the large grain tank.
[link to youtu.be]

view from the middle school parking lot. Fire looks like it is out past the fertilizer building. From above view, would probably be touching that building.
[link to youtu.be]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/07/2013 06:02 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
So far this is the only article I've spotted as current.

[link to www.click2houston.com]

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said they determined a stockpile of ammonium nitrate detonated

However, ATF Special Agent Franceska Perot cautioned that while investigators believe ammonium nitrate is what exploded, they still do not know the source or cause of the fire that preceded the explosion or exactly what triggered the explosion.

Ammonium nitrate is a potentially explosive chemical typically found at fertilizer plants, but fire alone cannot cause this chemical to explode.

Investigators are now trying to determine what other contributing factors may have led to the explosion.

source of the initial fire they said they have determined it did not start in the bin of ammonium nitrate stored in a building on the property.

to date they have developed over 200 leads
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/07/2013 08:06 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
So it wasn't the 12-in gas main like some GLPers thought might have caused the explosion.

Investigation could take 1 - 2 weeks past May 10. None of the ammonium nitrate caught fire. In this article, investigators believe the fire started in the fertilizer/seed building, not the office which has scorch marks on the ground where it used to be. Am I misunderstanding? In comparing the aftermath aerial views? Did Ru* ters misquote?

Oops, forgot all about them being banned because of copyright infringement threats, so no link. Name of the article to search for: Ammonium nitrate stores exploded at Texas plant.

Another initial fire cause has been eliminated. Fire within the ammonium nitrate bin.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/07/2013 11:20 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
No misquote. Every article I've found since is repeating the same thing. When I changed my search parameters, many from yesterday showed up. The fertilizer/seed building is the focus of search for the fire. So the burned remains and scorching over the office area isn't what it looked like to me.
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05/09/2013 01:19 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
[link to www.dallasnews.com]

It was the first time investigators publicly narrowed the location of the April 17 fire and officially acknowledged the probable cause of the explosion. Experts who reviewed the explosion for The Dallas Morning News have said ammonium nitrate appeared to be the source of the blast.

“All indications are leading to that,” Rachel Moreno, a spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, told The News.

Fire officials are still trying to determine the cause and original location of the fire within the building, Moreno said.

“We know [the fire] started in that building,” but not in the bin that exploded, Moreno said.

Moreno declined to comment on the number of ammonium nitrate bins in the building or the exact amount of ammonium nitrate kept there.

Moreno also said she couldn’t comment on what material the building was made of. She also declined to comment on whether someone — authorized or not — was at the plant when the fire broke out.

She said investigators haven’t determined that a criminal act precipitated the fire, but she also said that hasn’t been ruled out.

She declined to comment on how secure the building or ammonium nitrate bins were. Company spokesman Daniel Keeney said the ammonium nitrate was kept locked.

Company spokesman Daniel Keeney said late Monday that a surveillance system was installed in response to those break-ins. He said five cameras fed to a recording device also kept at the plant, which was essentially destroyed in the blast.

“So there’s nothing those cameras could tell us about what happened or when or why,” Keeney said.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak Thursday in Austin about making America a magnet for jobs. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that he didn’t know whether the president also would discuss worker safety and the role of the federal government in industrial oversight.

Fire officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire that triggered the blast. Initial findings are expected between May 17 and 24.
luckyophelia

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05/10/2013 09:10 AM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
bump
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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05/10/2013 01:13 PM
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Re: West Blast Investigation Could Be Completed By May 10
Thank you LuckyOphelia :) I've just now spotted the new thread, so linking it here. The last official release of info was on Monday, the 6th. This fits the timeline of investigation, but Waco officials say it has nothing to do with the Apr 17th explosion. Now DPS has directed the Texas Rangers to help with the investigation.

Thread: West, TX. was actual bombing - Fox News

New link.
[link to www.kwtx.com]

WEST (May 10, 2013)--The Texas Rangers will join the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office in a criminal investigation of the deadly April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co.

Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw directed the Rangers to join the probe Friday.

No further details were released.

[link to www.kwtx.com]

WEST (May 10, 2013)—A West man was being held Friday in the McLennan County Jail after federal marshals arrested him for possessing what authorities described as a destructive device.

Bryce Ashley Reed, 31, was ordered held without bond on the charge of possession of a destructive device, jail records showed.

Reed was arrested just after 2 a.m. Friday by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents.

Officials said there is no indication that Reed was connected to the deadly fertilizer plant explosion and McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told News Ten Friday that Reed's arrest has nothing to do with the April 17 blast.

News








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