The latest on the investigation into the deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion
Texas fertilizer plants are under investigation for not having proper ventilation systems, and they should have known better, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
The ruling came after an independent panel charged with overseeing safety at the plants said they failed to take adequate measures to protect workers and the environment.
The plants were shut down on Sept. 11, 2001, as an act of war.
The investigation was triggered by a federal lawsuit filed by Texas’ attorney general, who claimed the plant had a safety gap that allowed people to get into the building without permission.
“This case is not about whether or not Texas did the right thing,” U.S. District Judge John King said in a court filing.
“This is about whether the company knew that the air-conditioning system at the facility could not withstand an explosion.”
The panel said the state’s failure to adequately warn workers and others in the plant of the lack of ventilation system could have resulted in their deaths.
King found that state officials did not act quickly enough to warn the public about the problem.
The U.K.-based company said it would appeal the ruling.
“The panel is entitled to take this decision as a decision that the state was aware of the serious problem and failed to address it,” the company said in an emailed statement.
“We believe that this ruling is a setback to our business and that it is likely to be appealed,” the statement said.
The lawsuit was filed in February by a group of workers who had died after inhaling fumes from the plant.
Greg Abbott, a Republican, and Texas’ Democratic Attorney General Ken Paxton have defended the state and its officials.