Environmental Law

Fertilizer explosion caused some $100M in damage; plant had 'pathetic' $1M in insurance


As state and federal officials look into an apparent lack of regulatory scrutiny of a Texas fertilizer facility that exploded in a fiery blast last month, killing 15 people and injuring another 200, a further issue has come to the attention of outside lawyers representing victims of the disaster.

The facility, which stored fertilizer for retail sale and told officials there was no risk of fire or explosion in a regulatory filing, had only $1 million in insurance, according to the Dallas Morning News. Property damage alone from the explosion could total $100 million.

“A million dollars is a pathetic amount for this type of dangerous activity,” attorney Randy C. Roberts told the newspaper. The Tyler, Texas, practitioner has filed two lawsuits against West Fertilizer on behalf of explosion victims.

“If you want to drive a truck down the interstate, you’ve got to have $750,000 in coverage, even if you’re just carrying eggs,” Roberts continued. “But if you want to put this ammonium nitrate into this town next to that school and that nursing home and those houses, you’re not required to carry insurance.”

Roberts said he expects the facility’s owners to ask a judge to apportion the $1 million and file for bankruptcy, the Associated Press reports.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Fatal fertilizer plant blast a ‘nightmare scenario’; Texas plant told EPA explosion could not occur”

ABAJournal.com: “Could better regulatory enforcement have prevented deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion?”

Dallas Morning News: “From Washington to West, system failed to protect Texas town from tragedy “

Dallas Morning News (opinion): “Ignorance by design in West explosion”

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