The explosion that leveled part of West, Texas earlier this week is bound to bring new regulatory attention to the storage and movement of fertilizer. Already environmental groups, safety advocates and various watchdog groups are clambering to label fertilizer 'deadly'. The tragedy in Texas does serve as a timely reminder that anhydrous can be extremely dangerous if not handled with the proper care.
(See this week's blog 'Anhydrous Safety is No Accident')
Reports have surfaced that the West, Texas facility was not only storing anhydrous ammonia, but also UAN. UAN is the substance that was used in the Oklahoma City Bombing, and in many improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among terrorist organizations. UAN is much more volatile than NH3 and is likely the reason the explosion was so large.
Thirty five people are still reported missing in the Texas disaster. 12 are confirmed dead by ABC News, 200 injured, 50 homes destroyed with 25 homes yet to be cleared. One hundred thirty people were evacuated from a local nursing home, and rescue efforts are still underway at the site of the blast.
Photograph: Mike Stone, Reuters