Parker Waichman LLP is investigating lawsuits on behalf of those injured by the fire and subsequent explosionthat took place on April 17, 2013 at a fertilizer plant in central Texas. In the wake of the calamity, 15 were found dead among the smoldering ruins and the number of injured reached as high as 200, Reuters reported. The damage list includes 75 homes, a nursing home, an apartment complex and a middle school – as well as the West Fertilizer Co. plant itself. All that remains of the plant, formerly a 10-acre facility in West, Texas, is a gaping crater, 93 feet wide and10 feet deep.
The explosion, which was reportedly heard more than 40 miles away, certainly had the capability to have spawned widespread injury and destruction of property. The high-decibel shockwave created by the blast created a strong percussive impact; possible injuries may include hearing loss, as well as physical and psychological trauma, among a wide and spreading circle of individuals. Then there are the farm animals and pets to consider, not to mention property. Those affected could be found in many of the small towns and rural areas circling outward from West, in addition to those traveling on Interstate 35 during the blast.
The Dangers of Exposure to Fertilizer’s Deadly Ingredient
Authorities are very concerned about toxic fumes that were released at the site – and whether any traces of them still linger. According to Time, the West Fertilizer plant is known to have used dry ammonia, a colorless, strong-smelling nitrogen-based gas, as the primary ingredient in its farming fertilizer. The Dallas Morning News wrote that the plant was capable of storing up to 54,000 pounds of this ammonia. This is why so much of the town not directly impacted by the explosion was evacuated, a law enforcement official told the Morning News. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that anhydrous, or dry, ammonia “can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, breathing difficulty and burns.” Although the ammonia is colorless, it carries a strong odor – and health experts say this is the simplest way for people to know if they were exposed to the noxious fumes.
Those who have been exposed will experience burns and irritation from the gas, the most common side effects of exposure. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has sent a group of investigators to the town, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is monitoring the air quality for any potentially harmful ammonia level elevations.