The Phoenix Reporter & Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Live: Fertilizer plant explosion in Texas


By Digital First Media

Thursday, April 18, 2013

* A massive explosion struck a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, on Wednesday night around 9 p.m. EDT, about 20 miles north of Waco. It could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north. At least 160 are injured, D.L. Wilson of the Texas Department of Public Safety says. At least between 50 and 75 buildings are destroyed in the town.
* An exact radius of damage has not been calculated, but Sgt. Patrick Swanton said Thursday: “I’ve heard as far out as five blocks some homes were leveled.”
* Five or six volunteer firefighters were at the plant fire when the explosion happened, West’s Mayor Tommy Muska said. Between three and five remain unaccounted for Thursday morning, Swanton said.
* Authorities don’t know how many people may be trapped, but search and rescue efforts continue Thursday morning.
* The area around the plant is still unsafe, but earlier concerns that a second explosion could happen are decreasing, Swanton said. He reported the fire is now smoldering and in control.
* The search for survivors continued through the night.
* Some compared the site to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
* No official numbers on deaths were available as of a press conference at 9:15 a.m. ET, but officials believe that etween 5 and 15 people were killed.
* The explosion registered as a 2.1 earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
* West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals, The Dallas Morning News is reporting. The plant reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality cited the plant in 2006 for failing to obtain or qualify for a permit.
* Here’s what makes chemical fertilizers so dangerous.
* A “small amount of looting” was reported in the town, Swanton said, but has since been stopped.
Get updated coverage of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, near Waco, in the window below.