Sen. Boxer Announces OSHA Fine in West Explosion Case

Though the shutdown prevented OSHA from announcing it, the agency has proposed $118,300 in fines again Adair Grain Inc., which owned the fertilizer storage facility that blew up in the Texas town.

This is how important federal safety enforcement news is broadcast during a government shutdown: A U.S. senator decides to announce it, the Associated Press picks it up, and newspaper websites and other sites, including this one, post the news. On Oct. 10, the senator was California's Barbara Boxer, and her news was OSHA's enforcement action against Adair Grain Inc., which owned the ammonium nitrate fertilizer storage facility that blew up April 17, 2013, in the Texas town of West. Fifteen people died, nearly all of them volunteer firefighters.

Because OSHA apparently could not post the news, Boxer announced the agency has proposed $118,300 in fines against Adair Grain, doing business as West Fertilizer Co., alleging in its citations that the company's violations included not training forklift drivers, having no fire extinguishers available in the facility, and lacking an emergency response plan.

On Aug. 1, President Obama issued an executive order directing several agencies to expand their cooperative efforts to ensure chemical facilities are operating safely; the order directed the secretary of Homeland Security, the secretary of Labor, and the secretary of Agriculture to develop within 90 days a list of potential regulatory and legislative proposals to improve the safe and secure storage, handling, and sale of ammonium nitrate and to identify ways in which ammonium nitrate safety and security can be enhanced under existing authorities.

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