House mulls 1st major chemical bill since ’13 West blast

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas House is to debate the first major proposal to tighten chemical storage regulations more than two years after the deadly West fertilizer plant explosion.

The bill being heard Friday would strengthen rules for storing ammonium nitrate, a common but highly flammable ingredient in fertilizer. Other proposals imposing tighter controls haven’t made it as far through the Legislature.

The plan would establish procedures for fire prevention at ammonium nitrate storage facilities and require facilities to report hazardous chemicals to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Lawmakers have yet to adopt any measure designed to prevent an explosion similar to the one that killed 15 people and injured 200 in West on April 17, 2013.

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Tougher proposals were abandoned weeks after the blast amid lawmaker fears they could harm industry.