Fertilizer plant explosion levels several blocks of small Texas town

West City Services Will Take Weeks to Restore

Entire town of West under boil water notice

By Frank Heinz
|  Monday, Apr 22, 2013  |  Updated 8:32 PM CDT
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Some West families returned home Monday after the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed most of the community.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Some West families returned home Monday after the fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed most of the community.

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In a news conference Monday, officials declared the neighborhood around the site of last week's deadly explosion in the town of West safe, but said some public services will not be restored for several weeks.

Preliminary reports indicate the infrastructure to the town was severely damaged and that further assessment is underway to determine just how significant that damage may be, city officials said in a news conference Monday afternoon.

Due to the damage, officials said a boil water notice is in place for all of West, likely for the next few weeks, and that those without water service will not have it restored for up to three weeks.

Officials said the water plant is OK, but that clamps and seals that connect the 40-foot pipes beneath the ground need to be inspected for damage from the explosion and shock wave. Once the infrastructure is repaired, the water must then be tested by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before service can be fully restored.

City officials said city services it will take some time to restore and are encouraging people to find someplace else to stay until all services are restored.

Mayor pro tem Steve Vanek said the town is out of room for donated material, but that cash donations will still help.

Meanwhile, residents and insurance agents are now being allowed access to Zone 1 and Zone 2, though Zone 3 still remains locked down.  Officials said  a curfew remains in effect and state and local officials continue to actively patrol areas on foot and by ATV.

In all, officials said approximately 350 homes have been impacted by the blast, most all of which were north of Oak Street.

Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire that set off the explosion. Investigators also said they are taking a 3-D image of the crater to determine it's size and hopefully learn more about explosion.

Authorities said there is still no inventory of all chemicals that were at the facility.

Officials also discussed the memorial service scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at Baylor's Ferrell Center in Waco.  The White House said Monday morning that President Barack Obama is planning to attend, though it is not yet clear if the president plans to tour the town.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff contributed to this report.


West Fertilizer Plant Explosion
Complete coverage of a massive fertilizer plant explosion that leveled blocks of the small Texas town of West, TX. Click here for more.

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