Senator: Texas explosion has exposed 'toothless' chemical regulations

Fertilizer is partially composed of the highly explosive ammonium nitrate because of its effectiveness in providing oxygen to crops – not to mention its availability and inexpensiveness.

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Reports have surfaced that the plant in Texas had more than 1,350 times the amount of the chemical that would have put it under the watch of the Department of Homeland Security.

A government official told Reuters last week that the company, West Fertilizer, did not tell DHS about its ammonium nitrate supply. Fertilizer plants must report when they hold 400 pounds or more of ammonium nitrate, according to the story.

Since the substance can also be used in bombs, terrorism regulators are put in charge of monitoring the chemical.

“We may have been able to save lives in West, Texas, if first responders and regulators had knowledge about the chemicals stored on-site,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “Millions of Americans live near chemical facilities, and we owe it to them to ensure that safety measures are being taken to prevent deadly accidents.