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Leading State Environmental Activist Critical Of West Plant, TCEQ

Environment Texas

State environmental group are calling for a thorough investigation of the fertilizer plant in the town of West following the fire and explosion that killed 14 people and injured about 200.

Luke Metzger, the executive director for Environment Texas, said there were too many glaring defects at the West fertilizer plant for someone not to notice.

"It seems pretty clear, I think we can all agree this kind of facility probably shouldn't be next to a nursing home and schools and people’s homes. I think we need to have a full investigation. We also still don’t know - it appears that that they don’t have records saying they would have ammonia nitrate at the facility," Metzger said.

He said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has a history of not being as persistent with the inspections of older facilities like the one in West, which is over 50 years old.

"I think they are very eager to put the interest of business first and foremost, and unfortunately, all too often, that has come at the cost of public health and the environment. They have rushed to permit facilities in order to help the companies out," Metzger said.

He said the permitting problem may be one of the reasons why some of the more serious concerns were overlooked with the fertilizer plant in West.

Metzger said the plant in West is one of 100 such plants in Texas that house dangerous chemicals and are near a population of 100,000 or more.