Texas Fertilizer Plant Targeted by Thieves in Past

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

WEST, Texas -- A Texas fertilizer plant that blew up, killing 14 people, had been a target of burglars, many trying to steal a chemical that can be used both as fertilizer and to manufacture methamphetamine.

Records from the McClennan County Sheriff's Office say deputies were called to the West Fertilizer Co. facility more than 10 times in the 11 years before the April 17 blast that injured more than 200 and leveled chunks of the rural town.

Reuters first reported on the records.

The thieves appeared to want the anhydrous ammonia. In the right conditions it can be flammable or explosive. A leak can create a potentially fatal toxic chemical cloud. The plant also stored ammonium nitrate, a chemical that has been used in explosives, like in the Oklahoma City bombing.

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