"Federal Agency Finds Lax Regulation of Chemicals"

"HOUSTON -- A federal agency investigating a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant told a Senate committee Thursday that regulation of the dangerous chemicals used in the industry fall under a 'patchwork' of standards that are decades old and are far weaker than rules used by other countries."

"The U.S Chemical Safety Board is the first federal agency to acknowledge the lax oversight of ammonium nitrate, the chemical blamed for an explosion in West so massive that it registered as a small earthquake, flattened swaths of the small town and killed 15 people. The agency, one of several investigating the April incident, made 18 recommendations in a preliminary report obtained by The Associated Press. The findings have been submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The West Fertilizer Co. had no sprinkler systems, stored the chemical in wooden bins and did not report to local emergency responders the potential hazards of storing tons of ammonium nitrate because the law does not require them to do so, the report states. Firefighters are given only vague guidelines on how to battle a blaze involving ammonium nitrate — a chemical often used as a cheap alternative to dynamite in mining operations that has been used in terrorist bomb attacks."

Ramit Plushnick-Masti reports for the Associated Press June 27, 2013.

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Source: AP, 06/28/2013