Fertilizer plant explosion levels several blocks of small Texas town

West Explosion Takes Center Stage at State Capitol

Live tweets from the state capitol at the bottom of the article

By Paul J. Weber
|  Wednesday, May 1, 2013  |  Updated 10:11 AM CDT
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Live Updates from West Explosion Hearing

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The deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant is the focus of a special hearing at the Texas Legislature Wednesday.

State emergency officials say the West Fertilizer plant where an explosion killed 14 people this month was under no obligation to have an evacuation plan.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told lawmakers Wednesday there are more than 1,100 facilities statewide that store ammonium nitrate. The fertilizer plant in West reported it could store as much as 270 tons of the chemical in February.

Investigators say they still don't know what caused the massive explosion April 17 in the rural farming town.

State officials also told the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee they have identified more than 40 similar fertilizer blending facilities in Texas.

The packed hearing inside the Capitol was the first legislative inquiry since the blast that also injured 200 people.

Gov. Rick Perry has said that spending more state money on inspections would not have prevented the blast. State environmental regulators had last visited the fertilizer plant in 2006.

NBC 5's Ray Villeda is tweeting the hearing live from the state capitol.  Follow along below:


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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