West Fertilizer Plant Cited For 24 Serious Violations

(File photo)

WASHINGTON (October 10, 2013)—The U.S. Labor Department is citing the owners of West Fertilizer Co., with 24 serious safety violations stemming from the April 17th explosion that left 15 dead, more than 200 injured and that damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and buildings.

The government is proposing a fine of more than $118,000.

The citations, which are the first from the federal government, include unsafe handling and storage of two fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate.

The Labor Department issued the citations Wednesday and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced them Thursday because most of the Labor Department is closed because of the government shutdown.

The actual citation wasn’t available Thursday because of the partial shutdown, but a spokeswoman for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said the committee did receive a summary of the findings of the investigation by the Fort Worth office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In an e-mail, she said the violations involve not only unsafe handling and storage of anhydrous ammonia and unsafe handling and storage of ammonium nitrate, but also, missing data plate and labeling of NH3 storage tanks, failing to pressure test replacement hoses, inadequate relief valves, failing to install back pressure check valves, lack of barrier protection at NH3 piping and valves for vehicle traffic, failing to have an emergency response plan, failing to have a respiratory protection program, failing to have an energy control program, failing to evaluate for permit required confined spaces, failure to have appropriate fire extinguishers, fork lift operators were not trained or certified, and failing to have a hazard communication program