Boxer Asks Nation's Governors to Control Ammonium Nitrate Hazards

The California senator chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, which held an oversight hearing last month about the West, Texas, explosion and two other blasts.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter July 9 asking each of the nation's governors to take action to prevent explosions of ammonium nitrate. Her letter followed a June 27 oversight hearing by the committee into the explosion in West, Texas, and two other explosions in Louisiana and California.

"I want to bring to your attention the threats posed by the improper handling of ammonium nitrate. I trust you will agree with me that we must ensure that all available measures are used to prevent explosions of this dangerous chemical, which recently caused the deaths of 14 people in West, Texas. Ensuring proper controls on ammonium nitrate can be lifesaving," Boxer wrote.

"I urge you to review the applicable requirements in your state, and in the interests of saving lives, adopt policies that you believe will prevent loss of life while allowing the use of ammonium nitrate with appropriate protections or the use of alternatives," the letter states. "Chemical explosions can have tragic consequences, but best practices can prevent disasters. One of the most moving moments at the hearing were the words of Tim White, the brother-in-law of a firefighter lost at West, Texas. He wrote a letter proposing that we review and change as necessary policies related to the handling of ammonium nitrate. He said, 'The profound impact of this tragedy continues to affect our family daily and while the changes proposed here will not bring Kevin back to us, they will help ensure that other families and our country do not experience this type of tragedy again.' "

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