West, Texas Fertilizer Blast – Sen. Barbara Boxer pushes storage rules
The Senate of Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer tells reporters in Washington that she has mailed a letter to the nation’s governors asking for better safety measures for ammonium nitrate storage solutions. The hazardous chemical that is deemed to have caused the massive explosion is now extensively being monitored in chemical plants across the United States. Sen. Barbara Boxer is taking the precautionary step to ensure the safe storage of ammonium nitrate. Boxer stated at a press conference, “We know what has to be done. Ammonium nitrate has to be stored in a separate facility… it’s not rocket science here”.
When ammonium nitrate is heated or contaminated by incompatible chemicals, it can explode. This has been illustrated in recent news articles that have been covering the West Texas blast. Furthermore, ammonium nitrate is not on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of hazards that require oversight – although the Chemical Safety Board urged them to do so in 2002. The Fertilizer Plant had no sprinkler system, in case of a fire, and was not required to meet fire codes. Boxer continues, “You’ve got authorities at every level in every state,” that provide oversight of how chemicals are being stored, “You have a governor to county supervisors … fire departments, city councils. We all have to work on this.”
Many outraged by the exclusion of ammonium nitrate not being on the EPA’s list of hazards that require oversight. Boxer calls this exclusion “outrageous” and is working to create a change.