West (TX) Plant Cited for Safety Lapses

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Federal safety inspectors cited the company in West (TX) that operated the fertilizer plant where a explosion in April killed 15 people with 24 serious safety violations and proposed a $118,300 fine, reports the Associated Press.

A company spokesman said the alleged violations appeared unrelated to the accident.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said West Fertilizer Co. committed violations that included unsafe handling and storage of two fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate. It also cited the company for failure to have an emergency response plan, respiratory protection or appropriate fire extinguishers.

The Labor Department issued the citations Wednesday. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., disclosed them Thursday because most of the Labor Department is closed due to the government shutdown, and the agency and the company quickly confirmed them.

The magnitude of the April blast at West Fertilizer knocked out windows and rooftops all over the tiny town of West, Texas, and registered as a small earthquake. Blast victims included 10 first responders and two others who volunteered, and debris spread as far as two miles away.