First hearing into West plant explosion begins

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by F. KALLERGIS / KVUE News

khou.com

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 8:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 6:01 PM

AUSTIN, Texas  -- State lawmakers will begin their inquiry into the explosion of the West Fertilizer Plant in a special hearing Wednesday morning. 

The Texas Homeland Security and Public Safety Commission will call on top officials from several state agencies to testify. Some of the agencies had oversight of the plant before it exploded on May 17.

"I think this is an opportunity for us to understand how this all works, not to point any blame," said Committee Chairman Joseph Pickett. 

Pickett told KVUE the goal of the first hearing is to gain an understanding of what role each agency played in the oversight, regulation, security, inspection, licensing and location of the West plant.

Pickett said the committee will not be asking about what caused the plant explosion.

"This is something that, before there's a tragedy like this, hasn't been an issue." said Pickett. "It's like a lot of things, until something happens to this tragic proportion, there wasn't a problem. It's not something that was brought to the attention of the Legislature."

The explosion killed 14 people and injured about 200. Many homes, businesses and schools in the immediate area of the plant were destroyed. Preliminary damage estimates are about $100 million.

"Do I hope that there are some recommendations because of questions asked tomorrow? Absolutely," said Pickett.

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