The fertilizer explosion that killed 15 people in West, Texas, has led to a debate about new regulations on the depots that host ammonium nitrate.
A Wall Street Journal investigation has found that in Texas, a state that is the fourth-leading ammonium nitrate user, agricultural facilities like the one in West appear to be rare. The Journal examined chemical inventories for about 70,000 facilities in reports submitted to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Only 68 for the facilities last year reported storing at least 10,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate in solid form, the Journal reported. Of the 68, half are owned by companies that store commercial explosives, which can make them subject to inspections from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They are also subject to regulations, including having to keep a minimum distance from occupied buildings and highways.