West Plant Explosion

West Plant Explosion
5:04 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

FEMA Denies Rebuilding Aid to West, Texas (Update)

A decimated apartment complex in West, one month after the explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the town of West after April’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion.

FEMA has approved more than $7 million in aid and loans to West residents impacted by the blast, but has denied assistance for things like crisis counseling, legal services, and unemployment assistance.  

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8:00 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Federal Agency Claims It Was Shut Out of West Investigation

Investigators in front of an apartment complex near the West Fertilizer Plant.

The head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) says other government agencies are getting in the way of its investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion in West.

In a letter to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives blocked CSB investigators from accessing the site for a month, and "altered or removed almost all relevant physical evidence from the site."

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12:27 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Texas Students Solve Math Problems for West Recovery

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams at a check presentation ceremony. Students raised money for West, Texas disaster relief.
Texas Education Agency

Students across Texas helped raise $11,367 to the American Red Cross  West, Texas Relief Fund.

How'd they do it? By solving math problems. 

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West Plant Explosion
8:49 am
Fri May 17, 2013

Cause of Blast in West Fertilizer Plant Explosion Still Unknown

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

State and federal fire officials say it’s still unclear what caused a fire that led to the explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West. The investigation will remain open. Despite many unknowns, residents are trying to move forward.

On North Reagan Street, the only sounds you hear are screeching grackles and the occasional resident returning to what’s left of his or her home.  Nearly every house on this street is destroyed. Windows and doors are blown out. Roofs caved in. Broken furniture is scattered across lawns. There is a stench in the air that originates from a fly covered refrigerator. Someone has written "Do Not Open, Spoiled Meat" on the front.

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West Plant Explosion
2:14 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Officials to Announce Results from Investigation into West Explosion

Officials are expected to announce the results of their investigation into the April 17 fertilizer plan explosion in West, Texas on Thursday.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

State Fire Marshal's Office and ATF officials Thursday will announce the final results of their investigation into the fertilizer plant explosion in West.

The April 17 explosion killed 15 people and injured hundreds.

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West Plant Explosion
4:32 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

West Responder Arrested for Possession of 'Destructive Device' (Update)

The West memorial service at Baylor University.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Update: The “destructive device” Bryce Reed was said to possess was a pipe bomb.

U.S. District Court charging documents for Bryce Reed state that on May 7, an unnamed person called the Sheriff’s Office regarding components Reed had left with them – components an ATF agent says form a pipe bomb.  You can read the documents here.

Update (11:56 a.m.): StateImpact Texas notes there are now two investigations into the West plant explosion: one existing investigation into the origin and cause of the fire, lead by the State Fire Marshall’s Office office and the ATF; and the new, DPS-helmed investigation into any potential criminal activity, spurred by the arrest of West paramedic Bryce Reed. 

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West Plant Explosion
8:18 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Officials: Ammonium Nitrate Exploded at West Fertilizer Plant

Investigators in front of an apartment complex near the West Fertilizer Plant.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined ammonium nitrate stored at the West Fertilizer Plant is what exploded last month. But investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire that led to that explosion.

As KUT News learned in a conversation with UT Austin chemistry professor David Vandenbout:

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6:35 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Bake Sales to Help West This Weekend

Austinites baking for Japanese tsunami relief in 2011. A similar effort is happening Saturday to help victims of the explosion in West.
Mary Helen Leonard at http://www.flickr.com/photos/drstrangeglove/5588916543/

The recovery effort continues in West, where a fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 people last month and destroyed dozens of homes.

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5:07 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

DPS Official: State Doesn't Enforce Safety Regs at Plants

A House committee is looking into regulations at sites such as chemical plants.
KUT News

Two weeks ago, a fire ignited at a fertilizer plant in the small Central Texas town of West, and 20 minutes later, a massive explosion killed 15 people. More than 200 were injured and nearly 150 homes destroyed.

Thursday, Texas lawmakers questioned state agencies that had oversight over the plant, but they didn’t get many answers.

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7:19 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

U.S. Senate to Probe West Fertilizer Plant Explosion

KP Tripathi/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kptripathi/5953182596/

The United States Senate will hold a hearing into the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of West, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) announced Monday. Sen. Boxer chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee.

“I cannot rest until we get to the bottom of what caused the disaster in West, Texas and the tragic loss of life," Sen. Boxer said in a statement. "We must ensure that facilities like the one in West are complying with chemical safety laws. We will look at how the laws on the books are being enforced and whether there is a need to strengthen them."

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West Plant Explosion
2:44 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Three of Four West ISD School Buildings Must be Partly to Fully Demolished After Explosion

Three of West ISD's four school buildings sustained major damage in the explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Two school buildings in the city of West will have to be demolished because of damage from the deadly fertilizer plant explosion there nearly two weeks ago.

That’s what the Huckabee Architecture Engineering and Management Firm told West School District officials last night.

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West Plant Explosion
2:39 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

How Austin is Helping West, TX – And How You Can Too (Update)

As citizens from West continue to rebuild, events and charities in Austin continue to contribute to victims' relief efforts.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As families begin the long rebuilding process in West, Texas,  relief efforts are still in full swing. But while the community of West may no longer need blood or clothes or supplies – for the moment, at least – they still need money. The town incurred an estimated $100 million in damages following the fertilizer plant explosion.

To continue our coverage of ways Austinites can help those in West, here is an updated list of some West charities, events and benefit programs:

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West Plant Explosion
8:00 am
Mon April 29, 2013

After the Explosion: West Remembers and 'Rises Up'

The town cleans up in the days following the fertilizer plant explosion.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

A memorial service is scheduled today in West for two brothers killed in the fertilizer plant explosion. Douglas and Robert Snokhous were both captains with the West Volunteer Fire Department.

A total of 12 emergency responders died in the blast. Services for some of the others killed are planned for later this week.

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4:50 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Democrats Invoke Boston, West To Defend Government's Role

Last week, FBI investigators and a Watertown, Mass., police officer investigate the scene near the boat where bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding. Democrats have argued that the way the government responded to the Boston attacks makes a case for not cutting too deeply.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 26, 2013 4:23 pm

President Obama has spoken at two memorial services in just over a week — one for victims of the Boston Marathon attack and one for those who died in the chemical plant explosions in West, Texas. In both speeches, he focused on victims and survivors.

But other Democrats are using these events to talk about another subject: the role of government.

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West Plant Explosion
7:53 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Photos: Remembering the First Responders Killed in West

The helmets of the first responders killed in the explosion were carried in a procession.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

Click on the player to listen to the story as it aired on KUT 90.5.

More than 9,000 people gathered at Baylor University yesterday to honor the twelve firefighters and first responders who died in the West Fertilizer Plant Explosion.

KUT’s Terrence Henry traveled to Waco to tell us about the memorial service Thursday.  

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