Senator calls for oversight hearing in fertilizer plant explosion

By Robert Arnold, Investigative Reporter, rarnold@kprc.com
Published On: Apr 30 2013 09:51:19 PM CDT
Texas fertilizer plant
WEST, Texas -

As federal and state investigators continue to search for the cause of a deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Company, a congressional leader is preparing to hold hearings on the blast.  California Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, announced Tuesday she will conduct an oversight hearing into the disaster.

In advance of those hearings, Boxer sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency and Chemical Safety Board; asking a series of questions about regulatory oversight and the investigative process. 

Some of the questions Boxer asked involved the regulations regarding the reporting and oversight of facilities handling ammonium nitrate; a potentially explosive chemical that is suspected of being the source of the April 17 blast.

Some of the questions Boxer is asking mirror issues raised by Local 2 Investigates during an April 24 report.

 

“I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas and the tragic loss of life.  It is critical that we find out how this happened," Boxer wrote in a statement.  "We must ensure that facilities like the one in West are complying with chemical safety laws.  We will look at how the laws on the books are being enforced and whether there is a need to strengthen them.  I plan to schedule an oversight hearing in the EPW Committee in the near future.”

 

Federal and state investigators expect to remain at the blast site for another two weeks searching for any debris that may help them pinpoint a cause to this explosion.

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