Rail car ruled out as cause of West plant explosion
WEST - Officials have ruled out a rail car filled with ammonia
nitrate as the cause of last week's deadly fertilizer plant explosion.
The announcement came at an afternoon press conference.
Assistant State Fire Marshall Kelly Kistner called the rail car "a victim of that explosion."
But Kistner also said officials have yet to determine the exact cause
of Wednesday's explosion and still don't know how much ammonium nitrate
was being stored at the facility at the time of the disaster.
More than 70 federal and state agents are combing the blast site,
going "shovel by shovel" through the debris, Kistner said. Officials
have concluded the explosion was not due to natural causes, he said.
Investigators have now determined the explosion resulted in a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep, said Robert Champion, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Champion said investigative teams
will be at the fertilizer plant site for at least four to five more
Though it has been almost a week since the explosion, West Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek
said it's still unclear when residents who lived in the area closest to
the decimated fertilizer plant will be able to return to their homes.
"It is not safe," he said.
Crews are still trying to restore utilities; residents on the south
side of town have water that can be used for showering and washing
clothes but should not be consumed.