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Texas House Approves First Major Chemical Bill Since West Explosion

BJ Austin
The remains of the fertilizer plant in West, Texas.

The first proposal to tighten chemical storage regulations in the two years since the West fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people has passed the Legislature's lower chamber. 

Clearing the Texas House on Friday via voice vote, the bill would strengthen rules for storing ammonium nitrate - a common but highly flammable ingredient in fertilizer. It must still pass the state Senate. 

The bill establishes procedures for fire prevention at ammonium nitrate storage facilities, and requires facilities to report hazardous chemicals to state environmental authorities.

Other, more strenuous proposals designed to prevent another blast like the one that also injured 200 people on April 17, 2013, have yet to make it this far in the state Legislature.

Many were abandoned soon after the explosion amid fears they could harm industry.