Issue Date: June 1, 2015
Texas Tightens Rules On Ammonium Nitrate
The Texas Legislature has passed a bill that strengthens rules for storing and handling ammonium nitrate, the source of the 2013 explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer facility that killed 15 people. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is expected to sign the legislation (H.B. 942), which will require ammonium nitrate to be stored away from combustible material. It also will give the state fire marshal new powers to inspect businesses that store the chemical and issue citations for violations. Companies will have 10 days to fix problems or face penalties. State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R), whose district includes the town of West, says the requirements will increase safety but won’t burden agribusiness. “What we’ve done in the bill were the right steps to swing the pendulum to the middle,” he remarks. Under the legislation, businesses will be required to file reports with multiple state agencies and local emergency response officials detailing which chemicals are stored or used at their facilities. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will make those records available to the public.
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