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Explosion hits fertilizer plant in Texas

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Author: REUTERS/SCANPIX

An explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, night in the area of West, Texas, sending a massive fireball into the sky and causing dozens of injuries.

A number of nearby residents were being evacuated because of the possibility of another explosion, officials said.

Glenn Robinson, CEO of Hillcrest Hospital, said a field triage station was being set up on a football field near the plant some 18 miles north of Waco after the Wednesday night explosion. Scores of people are injured and an unknown number are dead.

“We have had a steady flow of patients coming in by ambulance as well as by private vehicles,” Robinson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

More than 60 patients were received as of 10 p.m. (11 p.m. ET), Robinson said, suffering from “blast injuries, orthopedic injuries (and) a lot of lacerations. While some of the injuries are minor, others are “quite serious,” he said.

Hazardous material teams were being rushed to the scene, an emergency management official said.

At least six helicopters are going to fly out those who are injured, Robinson said. Others are being transported by ambulance, and some are getting to the hospital by car, he added.

Two other hospitals in the region were also assisting.

As many scrambled to assist the injured, another danger seemed to emerge Wednesday night.

“What we are hearing is that there is one fertilizer tank that is still intact at the plant, and there are evacuations in place to make sure everyone gets away from the area safely in case of another explosion,” said Ben Stratmann, a spokesman for Texas State Sen. Brian Birdwell.

Chrystal Anthony, a nearby resident, said she saw the flames engulf a nursing home and an apartment complex.

“It was an apartment complex that was devastated, the nursing home. The fire was close to a residential area,” Anthony said.

West, Texas, is a community of about 2,800 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Sitting about 75 miles south of Dallas and 120 miles north of Austin, West is one of 22 incorporated communities in McLennan County.

<i>Uralchem</i>’s representative Arthur Skadats says: Only after experts present their findings would it be possible to say anything precise about the causes and consequences of the accident in Texas. As far as we know at the moment, the explosion was caused by ignition of the tank with liquid ammonia. At the terminal that we are currently building in Riga, such situations are in principle impossible. Here, storage or loading of liquid ammonia is not and never was intended. Our terminal is designed for the handling of dry fertilizers only. Moreover, the terminal is designed in the way that fully isolates the process of unloading, transportation and shipment of fertilizers from the environment. Here, industrial and environmental safety are of highest priority. At the moment, the terminal that we are constructing is the most up-to-date and safe specialized terminal in Europe.

This tragedy reminds us the Riga City Council’s decision of July 26, 2011, which approved construction of a fertilizer reloading and temporary storage terminal in Kundzinsala.

Riga City Council agreed that Riga Fertilizer Terminal in the capital of Latvia reloads 2 000 000 tons of fertilizer a year. Besides, the terminal will be allowed to store 90 000 tons of various kinds of ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate or saltpeter is an explosive and combustible chemical substance which is often used by terrorists for realizing their cruel ideas. This was the substance used in terrorist-made explosions in the United States, UK, Spain, Norway, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, Middle East, Russia and other countries.

No other port in the whole world is allowed to store more than 5000 tons of this substance.

Ref.110.110.110.3946


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