Settlements Reached in West, Texas, Fertilizer Plant Explosion

January 22, 2018

The city of West, Texas, and several other plaintiffs have reached settlements and partial settlements of claims stemming from a deadly explosion in the central Texas town.

An April 13, 2013, blaze heated up 30 tons of ammonium nitrate at a fertilizer plant. Investigators don’t know for sure what detonated the fertilizer, which can also be used as an explosive. The blast carved a crater 10 feet deep and damaged nearby schools. Fifteen people died, many of whom were first responders; more than 300 people were injured.

The fire involved a 12,000-square foot wood frame seed and fertilizer building at the West Fertilizer Plant, known as the Bulk Processing Plant, which had no fire resistance rating. The Uniform Fire Code wasn’t published until 1971 after the building’s construction sometime in the 1960s.

Federal safety investigators found a lack of regulations for “siting of facilities that store and distribute” ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. They said regulations addressing issues such as buffer zones or barricades, could have significantly reduced the severity of the casualties and damage.

More than 200 claims were filed in the aftermath of the blast. As the fire raged, the building’s roof collapsed and an explosion rocked the city of approximately 2,800 people.

Three schools, a West EMS building, a nursing home, an apartment complex and several single-family homes, along with three volunteer fire department trucks, were destroyed. Insured losses were estimated at $100 million.

The city and a nursing home reached settlements with CF Industries but have unresolved claims against El Dorado Chemical Co. The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

The settlement terms are confidential.