CF Industries named in lawsuit for deadly West, TX explosion

CF Industries named in lawsuit for deadly West, TX explosion
Photo provided by CNN.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 3:24pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 4:59pm

The massive explosion that devastated a town in West Texas has a small connection to one of the two deadly explosions that happened here in Louisiana two weeks ago.

A lawsuit has been filed against CF Industries for supplying the West Fertilizer Company with the volatile compound responsible for the explosion that happened on April 17. This is the same company with a plant based in Donaldsonville where an isolated incident killed veteran employee Ronald “Rocky” Morris, 55, on Friday, June 14.

According to reports, the city of West, Texas is accusing Adair Grain, operator of West Fertilizer Company, for negligently storing ammonium nitrate on its ground before the blast occurred. It also accuses CF Industries for selling the company 200 tons of the compound without investigating whether the plant could store it safely.

"The CF Industries defendants, in the best position to know and understand the full nature of the dangers of the product manufactured by them, made no effort to determine the risk to the community into which their product was shipped," the lawsuit states. "Instead, they blindly sold hundreds of tons of hazardous ammonium nitrate to West Fertilizer Company and delivered it to a facility located within a community of people, houses, parks, schools and a nursing home."

The suit also argues that CF Industries provided outdated safety information to West Fertilizer and failed to include additives that would have prevented a detonation.

In a statement on the lawsuit, CF Industries said it was "sympathetic to those whose lives were affected by this unfortunate incident" but believes there is "no basis for this suit." Adair Grain did not return a request for comment.

The incident at the Donaldsonville, La. plant has no connection to the Texas-based lawsuit, but the company could face additional litigation pending the result of an investigation.

The area of the Donaldsonville plant where the blast occurred is currently shut down for maintenance activity. Initial reports indicate that the blast was caused by a rupture of the nitrogen distribution header during the off-loading of nitrogen.

Investigators have yet to determine an exact cause for either of these incidents.

--Additional contributions to this report made by CNN reporters Matt Smith and Joe Sutton

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