Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

April 18, 2013

WEST EXPLOSION: Incidents rare among fertilizer plants

Corsicana — An explosion like the one at the West Fertilizer plant is incredibly unusual, according to local fertilizer companies in Navarro County.

“All the conditions have to be perfectly right for the anhydrous ammonia to blow up,” explained Matt Murray, owner of ABC in Corsicana. “The fertilizer isn’t considered an explosive. It’s just there’s things you can do with it to make it explode. It’s simply an oxidizer.”

Until more details are known, it’s unclear what caused the materials at the West Fertilizer plant to detonate Wednesday, but it’s not something people have to fear here.

“We don’t even have any of those here in Corsicana. There are fertilizer plants here, but we don’t have any anhydrous ammonia tanks here,” Murray said.

On July 30, 2009, the El Dorado fertilizer plant warehouse in Bryan caught fire, and although the site had anhydrous ammonia tanks, those did not blow, according to articles in The Eagle, the newspaper of Bryan-College Station, which covered the fire. The worst damage from that fire was skin and respiratory irritation to firefighters, although officials took the precaution of evacuating an 8-mile radius around the plant, The Eagle reported.

For now, the operators of fertilizer companies can only wait and see how the incident happened.

“We’re waiting to see what happened down there,” said Todd McGraw, manager of Williams Gin in Frost.

Williams Gin does have some of the anhydrous ammonia tanks, but unlike West, those are outside of town.

“This is a common product used by farmers around the world for fertilizer,” McGraw said. “It used to be you could buy it in a bag at Walmart. After the Oklahoma City bombing they stopped selling it in 50-pound bags.”

“It’s not a common thing that happened down there,” McGraw said.

The West Fertilizer Co. which blew up Wednesday night is an anhydrous ammonia facility, according to Trooper D.L. Wilson, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Anhydrous ammonia, a liquid source of nitrogen, is applied directly by farmers to the soil to boost crop yields, according to reports by the Bloomberg News.

West Fertilizer, a subsidiary of Adair Grain, had as much as 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at the site, according to an emergency planning report filed with the Environmental Protection Agency, and cited by the Dallas Morning News.


Janet Jacobs may be reached via email at Want to “Soundoff” to this article? Email:


Text Only
Latest News
  • TAMU.jpg Aggie Muster taking place Monday at Cook Center

    Former students of Texas A&M University will assemble in Corsicana on Monday, April 21, for the annual Texas Aggie Muster to honor all Texas Aggies who have passed away within the last year.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • CISD Trustees to meet Monday

    The Corsicana Independent School District Board of Trustees will meet in a regular session at 6 p.m. Monday at the administration building, 601 N. 13th St.

    April 19, 2014

  • Cancer Center Relay 1 Relay for Life fundraiser hits home as O'Neills offer drawing for weekend at guesthouse in Kemah

    Ten bucks. What will it get you these days? Maybe lunch. An eighth of a tank of gas. A pound of bacon. What about a beautiful weekend trip near the Texas coast? While helping an incredible local cause? You bet.

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Friday morning fire damages home

    A home in the 1700 block of West Ninth Avenue in Corsicana was damaged by an early morning fire Friday.

    April 18, 2014

  • 4-20 West Jump 1.jpg West honors 15 killed in year-ago explosion

    Rev. Terry McElrath heard the deafening boom. The pastor spun around and saw a column of smoke billowing into the sky above his small Texas town. He immediately thought, "Somebody has died tonight."

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18-14 Campbell Award.jpg Campbell named ‘Texas Aviator of the Year’

    It was quite an honor for Corsicana's “Dr. Dave.” The longtime Corsicana physician, and namesake of C. David Campbell Field at the Corsicana airport was named 2014 Texas Aviator of the Year by the Texas Department of Transportation.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18-14 Hop 1.jpg Kids at Hop Downtown offer insights into holiday

    The Hop Downtown, sponsored by the Main Street Office and local businesses, was colorful, loud and joyous, with Easter Bunny photos, free eggs, cookies, a bounce house and face painting Thursday afternoon in downtown Corsicana.

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • 4-18-14 Wesley UMC.jpg Two churches set to close

    Two local United Methodist churches are going through the early stages of closing their doors.
    Barry United Methodist Church and Wesley United Methodist Church in north Corsicana are both ending their ministries, according to their respective pastors.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18-14 NavarroRegional.jpg Baker named hospital ‘Employee of Year’

    Navarro Regional Hospital has named Sandy Baker as 2013 Employee of the Year. This award is the highest honor bestowed on a hospital employee each year. Baker was chosen from among 327 fellow employees for the honor.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Church News for Friday, April 18, 2014

    News and announcements submitted by congregations throughout Navarro County.

    April 17, 2014