On 17 April 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the storage and distribution facility of the West Fertilizer Company in West Texas, 18 miles (29 km) north of Waco, while emergency personnel responded to a fire at the facility. Fifteen people were killed, more than 160 injured and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed. The researchers have confirmed that ammonium nitrate is the explosive material. On 11 May 2016 the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau declared that the fire was deliberately set.
The Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA) last inspected the plant in 1985 at the time of the incident. According to records obtained by the Associated Press, OSHA cited and fined the plant $30 for incorrect storage of anhydrous ammonia. OSHA might have fined up to $1,000 for the company. OSHA also cited the plant for breaches of the standards of breathing protection, but did not impose a fin. OSHA officials said that the facility was not part of their “National Emphasis Plan “for inspections, as it was not a manufacturer, had no record of a major accident and was not considered a major risk by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In an emergency planning report submitted to the EPA in 2011, officials of the company said that ammonia storage tanks do not represent a significant fire or explosion risk. After the fire and explosion the tanks were still intact.
On Wednesday, 17 April 2013, the facility caught fire and the site exploded about 20 minutes after the fire was first reported to emergency dispatchers. At 7:50 p.m. As firefighters tried to douse the flames, CDT (00:50 UTC, April 18) exploded with a force of 7.5-10 tons of TNT. The explosion caused a crater of 93 feet in which the fertilizer plant had previously been located and caused 12 deaths and numerous injuries. The cause of the initial fire remained unknown after weeks of investigation; the authorities ruled out as possible causes of the weather, natural causes, anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate in a railway car. In May 2016, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), a announced that they had deliberately set the fire.
Control measures that could have been taken are as follows:
- Change the requirements of the international fire code for FGAN ( Fertilizer Grade Ammonium Nitrate )storage facilities.
- Include FGAN in the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) list of risk management.
- Strengthen OSHA, FGAN regulation by adding highly hazardous chemicals, toxics and reagents to the explosion standard or list.
- Fund training for emergency responders to respond to FGAN fires.
- Rules should be formed that no explosive material should be kept near the FGAN.
- The structure build to store the FGAN should not wood in it.