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Safety Rules Limited For Small Fertilizer Plants

Posted: Apr 20, 2013 12:20 PM by Associated Press

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A fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded and killed at least 14 people rarely had safety inspections. It had no sprinklers, firewalls or deluge systems.

This is not unusual.

Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of different agencies. Each has a specific concern, and don't have to coordinate.

The plants, including 1,150 in Texas, are part of a regulatory system that focuses on large installations, though many of these smaller facilities contain enough agricultural chemicals to fuel a major explosion.

In Texas, where many communities have minimal zoning, houses and schools can be close to fertilizer plants. The blast Wednesday night destroyed a school, nursing home and houses in a four-block area.

The plant's owner has not returned calls seeking comment.

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