Texas fertilizer plant that exploded, killing up to 15, lacked required sprinklers

KTXS coverage of West Fertilization Plant explosion

WEST, Texas (AP) -  A Texas fertilizer plant that exploded, killing up to 15 people, was required by the state to have sprinklers and other safety mechanisms, but told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency it did not have such equipment.

(Click HERE for the latest coverage on the plant explosion)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality air permit chief Mike Wilson said the agency required sprinklers and safety barriers for the fertilizer storage and blending facility in West. The measures are required because the plant handles anhydrous ammonia, a flammable substance that can be used as a fertilizer.
But in a risk management plan the company filed with the EPA in 2011, officials said it did not have such systems.
It was unclear if state inspectors checked for the safety measures. The plant exploded after a fire Wednesday night.

From previous story:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in his state "a truly nightmare scenario."

Authorities have said as many as 15 people are feared dead and more than 160 others were injured in the explosion that leveled homes and businesses in the farming community of West, Texas.

Perry emphasized during a Thursday morning news conference that much of the information about victims remains "very preliminary." He says President Barack Obama has offered a quick turnaround of declaring McLennan County an emergency disaster that is eligible for federal aid.

Perry says at least 75 homes were damaged in the blast. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says the explosion Wednesday night knocked people "all over the town" back 10 feet, including some through windows.

From previous story:

Authorities say they've received reports of looting in the aftermath of the catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion that's killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said there's been "a small amount of looting" in the neighborhoods surrounding the West Fertilizer Co.
Swanton said it's too early to estimate the number of looters but said the reports are "a significant concern to us."
He didn't know if arrests had been made, as the focus of emergency responders is search and rescue. Swanton said at least one person suspected of being a looter was seen running from a damaged home.
Responders are concentrating on a "hard, gut-wrenching job" and Swanton says despite looting reports, "West has seen a tremendous outpouring of support."

From the previous story:

Police in Texas say it's not clear how many people remain trapped in the rubble after a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others.
Waco Police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday he doesn't know how many people have been rescued since the Wednesday night explosion in downtown West.
But he said officials on the ground remain in "search and rescue mode," going building to building in the largely decimated neighborhood surrounding the plant.
He said he knows some firefighters still are missing.
Swanton said a thunderstorm that rolled through the area early Thursday has helped in some ways, including tamping down chemicals released from the plant.

From the previous story:

Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in a fertilizer plant explosion that also injured more than 160 others.
Waco police Sgt. William Patrick Swanton said early Thursday morning that the death toll is only an estimate as search and rescue operations remain under way in downtown West.
An explosion Wednesday night shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake in the community of 2,800 people located about 20 miles north of Waco.
Swanton says there is no indication the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.

From the previous story:

An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant in central Texas is sending flames shooting high into the night sky. The plant, in the town of West, left the factory a smoldering ruin, caused major damage to nearby buildings and injured numerous people.
West is just north of Waco. The explosion could be heard as far away as Waxahachie (wahks-uh-HA'-chee), 45 miles away. A nearby resident said the blast was like being in a tornado because "stuff was flying everywhere." Debbi Marak says her windshield was blown out.
More than two hours after the blast, there were still fires smoldering in what was left of the plant and others burning in nearby buildings. In aerial footage from Dallas' NBC affiliate, WDFW, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.
Authorities have set up a staging area on the local high school's football field, which was lit up with floodlights.
American Red Cross crews from across Texas were being sent to the site.

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