Federal agency finds lax regulation of chemicals

The site of the deadly West explosion. (Photo by Kyle Muscarello)
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HOUSTON (AP) - A federal agency investigating a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant says the regulation of dangerous chemicals falls under a "patchwork" of U.S. standards that are decades old and weaker than those used elsewhere.

The U.S Chemical Safety Board will present preliminary findings Thursday to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The Associated Press obtained the report in advance.

The board is the first federal agency to acknowledge lax oversight of ammonium nitrate, the chemical blamed for the April explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. that killed 15 people and flattened swaths of the town of West.

The plant had no sprinkler systems and the chemical was stored in wooden bins. The board says guidelines for firefighters on how to fight such a blaze are vague.

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