Settlement in TX Fertilizer Plant Blast

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @ 02:10 PM gHale

Most people can remember the powerful blast that shook and tore apart a small Texas town just over two years ago and now some closure is starting to occur as officials reached a partial settlement in case against the fertilizer plant.

The 2013 explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant ripped apart a section of the city, killed 15 people, including 12 firefighters, and caused $100 million in damages.

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The deal ended up reached on Sunday and its terms were not immediately available, McLennan County District Clerk Jon Gimbal said Monday. The settlement includes the families of the three civilians killed in the fire and explosion.

Jurors headed to court on Monday for the case ended up excused, the district clerk’s office said.

Jury selection in the trial of the first group of plaintiffs — families of three civilians killed in the blast — was to begin Monday. A trial for a second group of plaintiffs should start in early 2016.

At least seven lawsuits ended up filed against Adair Grain Inc., which owned the West Fertilizer Co facility. Plaintiffs claimed negligence by the plant employees and sought millions of dollars in claims. Four insurance companies were among those suing Adair Grain seeking to recover claims they are paying to individuals and businesses hurt in the explosion.

Between 40 and 60 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded 22 minutes after a fire broke out on April 17, 2013, at West Fertilizer, about 75 miles (120 kms) southwest of Dallas. The fire and explosion gutted a 50-unit apartment complex, demolished about 50 houses and battered a nursing home and several schools. Dozens more homes suffered damage.

Most of the dead were emergency personnel who responded to the fire and likely killed by the blast, which was so powerful it registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake.

The 12 firefighters who died did not have the proper preparations for the ferocity of the fire, which was “significantly beyond the extinguishment stage” and should have focused on evacuating the area rather than putting out the blaze, a 2014 report from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office said.