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West Schools Still In Temporary Buildings One Year After Explosion

Ryan Poppe
TPR News
Construction on temporary buildings continued in late August 2013, just before school was to start.

It has been one year since the fertilizer plant explosion that leveled several school campuses in the North Texas town of West and administrators are still recovering.    

West Independent School District Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jan Hungate said the plant explosion destroyed three campuses, so for now an entire school system is using portable buildings.

"We have completely demolished the intermediate school and the high school, they are no longer on those sites at all, and it has all be replaced by modular buildings where our children are attending school right now," Hungate said. "And they’ve been there all year and it’s something of the new normal for us.” 

Hungate said administrators decided not to make students and teachers attend classes on the anniversary of the plant explosion.

“The anniversary brings up a lot of those memories and so that’s the reason we decided we have a snow day we could re-arrange, and so we decided to give every family to be together on this day,” Hungate said.

One of the campuses was only 200 yards away from the blast, another 500 yards away. To date in the State of Texas, according to the Center for Effective Government, there are over 1,400 schools within one mile of a high risk chemical plant like the one in West.  

During this interim period lawmakers on the House Committee on Homeland Security are considering ways to prevent the explosion in West from happening elsewhere; so far the consensus is to enact fire codes for these plants in 2015. 

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.