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A Visual Guide to The West, Texas Explosion

Why the CSB’s new video is worth a watch.

Here at Chem.Info, we’ve extensively covered the disaster at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas. But in case you missed it: In April 2013, a fire at a fertilizer storage and distribution facility triggered a massive explosion that killed 15 people, injured around 260 and left overwhelming physical destruction in the community nearby.

But knowing the facts and actually seeing the damage are, of course, two different experiences — which is why this nicely produced video by the Chemical Safety Board, the federal agency charged with investigating chemical accidents, is worth a watch. Even if you’re familiar with the incident and with the CSB’s recent investigation, this video shows:

  • How the fire spread.
  • The wooden bins the chemicals were stored in (including ammonium nitrate, which was responsible for the blast).
  • The extensive damage to the community of West.
  • How volunteer firefighters responded to the incident and why so many were killed by the blast.
  • How poor regulations were both the underlying culprit of the problem and why they could prevent the disaster from happening again.

Hats off to the CSB for rendering a high-quality video to accompany their 260-page investigation and continuing to shed light on how to improve safety in the chemicals industry.

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