In wake of a spring and summer that saw several fatalities related to fertilizer and chemical production, President Obama has ordered the drafting of tighter fertilizer regulations. Through a lengthy inquiry, it has been found that the ammonium nitrate stored at the West, Texas fertilizer depot that made headlines earlier this spring had fallen through regulatory cracks.
No wrongdoing has been pinned on the management in West, TX because no crime was committed. The tragedy is no less horrific with the knowledge that an approved plan was in place for anhydrous storage and the company was found to have been within regulatory compliance there. But the ammonium nitrate that added an extra explosive element to the blaze was not regulated in its dry form.
Inquiries from Senator Barbara Boxer aimed at scape goating West's management uncovered holes in the regulatory net, and it is one of these holes that West slipped through.
President Obama is taking direct action to ensure the holes in the net are patched. The news has been well received by fertilizer suppliers and officials within the Texas regulatory establishment and while few specifics have been offered up, it makes sense that as domestic nitrogen production increases in the United States, the regulatory environment tightens.
View the full release from the White House here.