west feritlizer ammonium nitrate

West Fertilizer Plant was an Easy Mark

Still reeling from the devastating explosion in West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant exploded, killing 15 and injuring more than 200 people, law enforcement has reported the site has been repeatedly burglarized.

West Fertilizer Plant was an Easy Mark

(Photo by Earl Nottingham/Texas Parks & Wildlife Department via AP)

Worse yet, there were no security measures in place to thwart the burglary and vandalism in the past 12 years. There were at least 11 burglaries and five chemical leaks at West Fertilizer Co. An exclusive report by Reuters gathered information from police dispatch logs and criminal offenses.

According to McLennan County Sheriff Matt Cawthon, the reports clearly indicate a lax attitude toward security at the plant, though there is no evidence that a security breach at the facility caused the April 17 explosion. Some of the materials stored at the facility were necessary ingredients used in making illegal methamphetamines.

The cause of the blast remains under investigation, though authorities are saying there was a fire at the plant earlier in the day based on tips received on an arson hotline.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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