Explosives Maker In PA Has 400 Times More Ammonia Than West, Texas, Plant
On April 17, when 30 tons of fertilizer detonated in West, Texas, a shock wave traveling faster than the speed of sound crushed homes. Windows shattered seven miles away. The United States Geological Survey recorded a 2.1 magnitude tremor from the blast.
Fifteen people died, 12 of them firefighters and emergency responders, and 200 were injured.
The same chemical that blew up West — ammonium nitrate — is manufactured in Donora, Pa., 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.
Dyno Nobel is a manufacturer of explosives in Donora, and it stockpiles as much as 23 million pounds of ammonia at a time, according to the most recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s 432 times more ammonia — the raw material used in making ammonium nitrate fertilizer and explosives — than was stored in West.
Pennsylvania officials would not release records of ammonia or ammonium nitrate stockpiles, saying the information could threaten public safety. However, a federal law requires the state to disclose that information. And safety experts said that the public is more likely to be harmed by an industrial accident than by terrorists.