By Ramit Plushnick-Masti
HOUSTON — The West fertilizer plant that exploded, killing up to 15 people, was required by the state to have sprinklers and other safety mechanisms, but told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency it did not have such equipment.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality air permit chief Mike Wilson says the agency required sprinklers and safety barriers for the fertilizer storage and blending facility in West. The measures are required because the plant handles anhydrous ammonia, a flammable substance that can be used as a fertilizer.
But in a risk management plan the company filed with the EPA in 2011, officials said it did not have such systems.
It was unclear if state inspectors checked for the safety measures. The plant exploded after a fire Wednesday night.