State Fire Marshal hosting Ammonium Nitrate meetings to avoid another 'West Explosion'


POSTED: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 - 7:04pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 6:01pm

The most devastating firefighter losses in Texas history, the West and Texas City explosions, can be attributed to a raw chemical known as Ammonium Nitrate.

KETK spoke with the State Fire Marshal, Chris Connealy, who said, "The problem in West was that we had Ammonium Nitrate in a combustible storage bin, in a combustible building, if you will. Many of the facilities across the state are just like that". Ammonium Nitrate is a popular staple in East Texas, since it is a key ingredient in fertilizer. Smith County Fire Marshal, Jim Seaton, said, "Garden supply companies have Ammonium Nitrate in some form or fashion already at their facilities, but they do have the raw product".  

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the State Fire Marshal is hosting a series of meetings in East Texas to better inform firefighters of the safety precautions needed to handle this chemical, in order to avoid another West scenario. Connealy said, "The goal is simply education. Ultimately to prevent another West by having a very candid conversation with how best to store it". They will also discuss response techniques and strategies for first responders on the scene in case of a problem. Taking things a step further, Connealy is personally inspecting the containers holding the chemical. Throughout Texas there are 104 containers of Ammonium Nitrate. Of that number, 67 of them need to be placed in better facilities.

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Leave it to NBC. I got here from the DHS intranet and found a picture of an ammonia tank at the top. Ammoniun Nitrate is a dry, granular fertilizer which in certain concentrations makes a low yeild explosive. It is not stored in pressure tanks. Picture should match story.

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