Canadian Manufacturing

Ammonium nitrate culprit in West Texas plant blast

A spot where the chemical was stored is now a 27.5-metre crater



AUSTIN, Texas—Officials have determined that ammonium nitrate stored at a Texas fertilizer plant is what exploded on April 17, killing 14 people and injuring hundreds.

The finding was expected, and officials had said they were focusing their investigation on the explosive chemical used in many fertilizers, said Rachel Moreno, spokeswoman for the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office. A spot where the ammonium nitrate was stored is now a 90-foot (27.5-meter)-wide crater, Moreno said.

However, the ignition source for the explosive chemical remained undetermined Monday. Findings on the cause of the blast on the outskirts of the small town of West initially had been expected Friday. However, the investigation will take one to two extra weeks to complete, with dozens of investigators combing through plant wreckage and the adjoining wrecked neighbourhood, Moreno said.

Also, federal emergency officials have begun offering shelter for West residents whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. About 70 homes were damaged or destroyed.

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