Authorities Launch Criminal Investigation of West Fertilizer Explosion

A criminal investigation has been launched into the West, Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month.

The Texas Department of Public Safety says it directed the Texas Rangers to join the McLennan County Sheriff in an investigation of the circumstances surrounding the massive explosion of West Fertilizer Co. on April 17.

“This disaster has severely impacted the community of West, and we want to ensure that no stone goes unturned and that all the facts related to this incident are uncovered,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw, in a statement. “The citizens of McLennan County and Texas must have confidence that this incident has been looked at from every angle and professionally handled."

DPS says its Division of Emergency Management continues to work with local, state and federal authorities to assess damages and facilitate recovery assistance to the victims.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports a paramedic in West, Texas, has been arrested by federal officials for possession of an explosive device, but it was unclear whether there was in connection to the explosion last month at a fertilizer plant in the town, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Blog: Doesn't Matter How West Fertilizer Dangers Were Revealed

Investigators confirmed ammonium nitrate was the trigger for the explosion at the fertilizer retailer that left 15 people dead and about 200 injured. 

The West Fertilizer Co. carried $1 million in liability insurance provided by United States Fire Insurance Co., a member of Morristown, N.J.-based Crum & Forster, which is part of the Fairfax Group. A spokesman for Adair Grain Inc., the parent company of West Fertilizer, says the company did not have excess or umbrella coverage.

The Texas Department of Insurance says four state agencies with some oversight of these types of facilities—State Health Services, Texas State Chemist, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and Texas Agriculture Department—do not require general liability a West Fertilizer-type operation.

The Insurance Council of Texas estimates insured property losses are $100 million. The total includes estimated insurance payments for the plant, 140 homes, an apartment complex, a middle school and a retirement center.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Adair Grain since the force of the April 17 blast leveled or damaged a large swath of the surrounding town. Multiple companies within the W.R. Berkley Corp. group of insurers are among those who have filed suit, claiming negligence on the part of the Adairs.

Also Read:

W.R. Berkley Attorney: Limited Coverage Held by West Fertilizer ‘Irresponsible’

 

Comments

Resource Center

View All »

Contractors General Liability Coverage 102

What is a prior work exclusion? Which option is right for my client? Why do...

Sign up today to get a 50% matching credit -...

Insurance marketing sometimes seems like it's a game of swings and misses, but we're here...

Guide: 5 Steps to Selling Cyber

Cyber risk and data security is on the agenda of every business owner and executive....

Citation Correlation

Do rigger and signalperson qualifications correlate with the cause of crane and rigging accidents? ...

Complete Guide to Electronic Signatures in Property & Casualty Insurance...

In property and casualty insurance, closing new business quickly is key. Learn how to leverage...

INSTANT ACCESS: Complimentary Sales Closer Questionnaires

Help property owners or managers compare your commercial residential property insurance coverage vs. the competition....

Determining Vacant Property Perils and Valuations

Are your clients fully covered for Vacant Properties? In this economic climate, your insureds may...

Risk Management for Law Firms

This package of 3 concise risk management articles offers straightforward content and practical suggestions law...

Guide: Top 15 E&O Risks-And How To Avoid Them

Accidents happen. But when it's an errors and omissions oversight, that accident can open your...

We'll Show You How to Reach Your Sales Goals

Whether you work alone or have a team of agents working for you, we can...

Forensic Insider eNewsletter

Get investigative information and forensic insight to help you reach optimal claims outcomes – FREE. Sign Up Now!

Claims-Handling Guidelines

Claims Magazine is providing the following free guidelines and regulations in order to help adjusting professionals stay abreast of each state’s unique property and casualty claim-handling requirements.

View our State Guidelines »

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.