On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at approximately 7:30 p.m., a fire alarm was sounded at the West Fertilizer Company in the small community of West, Texas. While firefighters worked to put out the blaze, police and paramedics began evacuating residents within a one-mile radius of the plant. Less than a half hour later, a second explosion occurred which leveled four to five blocks around the facility. The blast registered as a magnitude 2.1 seismic event on the richter scale, and was felt for miles in all directions. At least 15 people died and nearly 200 others were injured as a direct result of the explosion. Injuries caused by the blast were reported to include:
Broken bones (orthopedic injuries)
Eye irritation and injuries
Michael E. Schmidt, Managing Partner of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, has already been contacted by residents of West, Texas, and is currently representing a number of victims in the horrible tragedy. "Our firm has substantial expertise in the area of workplace and environmental litigation. As a result, we have recently received a number of inquiries from residents of West, Texas who were adversely affected by the fertilizer plant explosion.”
As of this writing, investigators are still in the process of determining what exactly caused the fire that set off the explosion. Although the plant is considered a crime scene, authorities say there is currently no evidence of foul play. Robert Champion, the special agent in charge for the Dallas office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), said investigators are planning to enter the scene and start digging for answers over the next few days. "It's a slow process, but we're getting there," Champion said.
Donald Adair, owner of West Fertilizer Co. and a lifelong resident of the town, said he had been severely affected by Wednesday’s events.
"This tragedy will continue to hurt deeply for generations to come. My family and I can't express enough our deep appreciation for the loving service and selfless sacrifice from within and around our community responding to the urgent needs of those affected," he said. Adair vowed his company would "pledge to do everything we can to understand what happened to ensure nothing like this ever happens again in any community."
Sadly, the West, Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion is just the latest in a series of catastrophic events involving anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. Over the past 90 years, at least 17 fatal explosions have been caused by these chemicals in the United States. The worst such event occurred in 1947, when a cargo ship ignited in the port of Texas City, Texas, killing 550 people and injuring approximately 3,500 others. It remains the deadliest industrial accident to occur in our nation’s history.
Ammonium nitrate was also used to make the fertilizer bomb that exploded in front of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. The explosion, which was eventually found to have been detonated by Timothy McVeigh, killed 168 people and injured more than 800. As a result of the tragedy, the sale of ammonium nitrate became heavily regulated, and agricultural usage of the chemical dropped sharply.
The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, are dedicated to helping victims of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion receive the maximum, full and fair compensation they are entitled. When we learned about this tragedy, we pledged to focus our efforts on helping the injured victims and the families of those whose loved ones died in the explosion.
Michael E. Schmidt is recognized as one of America's most passionate, accomplished and skilled trial lawyers. His law firm, Schmidt & Clark, LLP, is currently accepting West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion lawsuits in all 50 states and offers a free confidential case evaluation. To learn more about this topic and to see if you qualify to participate in a West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion lawsuit, please visit his website: http://www.schmidtandclark.com/west-texas-fertilizer-plant-explosion