May 5, 2013 in Nation/World

Plant that exploded had little insurance

Mandatory coverage is ‘rare for Texas’
Christopher Sherman Associated Press
 

McALLEN, Texas – The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area, had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.

Tyler lawyer Randy Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer’s owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant’s insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday.

“The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we’ve seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility,” Roberts said.

He said he wasn’t surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

“It’s rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity,” he said. “We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation.”

On April 17, a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. in West, a town 70 miles south of Dallas, was quickly followed by an earth-shaking explosion that left a 90-foot wide crater and damaged homes, schools and a nursing home within a 37-block blast zone. Among those killed were 10 emergency responders.

State and federal investigators haven’t determined what caused the blast.

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