Bloomberg News

CF Industries Sued by Texas Town Damaged in Fertilizer Blast

June 24, 2013

June 24 (Bloomberg) -- CF Industries Holdings Inc., the largest U.S. producer of nitrogen fertilizer, was sued by the City of West, Texas, for more than $1 million in damages caused by the explosion of a local plant it supplied.

The town sued the chemical feedstock maker on claims it should have inspected the West Fertilizer Co.’s facilities itself and issued its own safety warnings to the local community on the explosive risks of ammonium nitrate.

CF Industries is “better able to protect inhabitants of the communities where they distribute large quantities of ammonium nitrate than either public sector agencies or the small fertilizer mixing facilities from whom they reap financial gain,” the town said in a complaint filed June 21 in state court in Waco.

The company shipped 200 tons of fertilizer to the plant during the six weeks before an April 17 explosion killed 15 and damaged the small town’s high school, middle school and infrastructure, according to the complaint. The blast damaged more than 150 structures across a 35-block area.

The lawsuit follows CF Industries statement June 15 that one person died and seven were injured after a blast at a plant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. The company said the accident happened when an inert nitrogen vessel ruptured.

Ammonium Nitrate

West claimed in its complaint that CF Industries, based in Deerfield, Illinois, was allegedly “negligent in failing and/or refusing to include an additive/coating that would have prevented the ammonium nitrate from detonating/exploding,” when a fire of unknown origin overheated some of the fertilizer stored at the site.

CF Industries didn’t immediately respond to voice or e-mail messages left with its media relations department seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint also named Adair Grain Inc., the plant’s owner, which was sued in April by townspeople and insurance firms seeking damages over the deadly blast. At least 33 residents of the town and four local insurance agencies are suing Adair, according to court records and the victims’ lawyers.

The case is City of West, Texas vs. CF Industries, 2013-2476, District Court of McLennan County, Texas (Waco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston laurel@calkins.us.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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