The chemical ammonium nitrate has been linked to several major explosions all over the world, including one at a chemical plant in the U.S. state of Texas that exploded in 2013. More than a dozen people died. The investigation into what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again was completed just this year.
In 2013, the West Fertilizer company in the U.S. state of Texas caught fire, then exploded.
The explosion destroyed more than 150 buildings, including homes, schools, and a nursing home. 15 people died, including 12 firefighters.
The investigation determined that the explosion was caused when 30 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical used in agricultural fertilizer. Firefighters arriving on site didn’t know how dangerous it could be.
The Chemical Safety Board is pushing for greater regulation of ammonium nitrate, better firefighter training, and a shift to safer alternatives.
Ammonium nitrate remains popular with many farmers who have never used anything else on their crops, and federal law doesn’t ban the substance or govern how it’s stored and handled.
Until laws are changed the danger to communities across the U.S. will likely remain.