Legislation Proposed in Wake of West Explosion, Athens Fertilizer Plant Fire

 AUSTIN (KCEN) -- It's been over one year since the West fertilizer plant explosion, but now the first bill in response to the disaster that killed 15 is taking shape in the Texas legislature. The bill proposed by State Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, would require fireproof storage and more inspections for ammonium nitrate facilities. 

"The possibility of another West is still out there," said Rep. Pickett on a phone interview with KCEN. "The danger is still there unless we make some relatively common sense changes." 

Under the proposed changes, ammonium nitrate facilities would have to have noncombustible containers or sprinkler system. It would also give power to the State Fire Marshal's Office and local volunteer fired departments to inspect the facilities. The Fire Marshal's Office would also be able to promulgate rules. The facilities would have to adopt the changes within three years. 

The bill Pickett proposed Tuesday, to the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety, can't be filed till the next legislative session begins in January. But it's already getting pushback from some Republicans. "Some folks don't want anything to do with anything regulation," said Pickett.

Rep. Pickett is confident he can get the legislation passed during the next legislative session and hopefully have it go into effect in January of 2016."The danger is still there unless we make some relatively common sense changes."


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