The deadly fertilizer blast in a rural Texas town is mostly likely unrelated to an act of terror, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says.
“We believe this to be an industrial accident,” Texas Republican Rep. Mike McCaul told reporters on Thursday. “It’s not like the town is on the terror watch list.”
But some Texas House members said the explosion in West, Texas should move Congress to direct more funding to chemical-site security standards and infrastructure-protection programs.
“This horrific incident – whether a result of criminality or an accident – is a reminder of the importance of such protections and that our vulnerabilities do not only reside in large cities,” Rep. John Carter, who serves on the subcommittee overseeing funding for homeland security, said in a statement.
The extremely flammable – and legal – fertilizer manufactured in the West facility was similar to that used in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, noted Rep. Joe Barton, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee whose district is near where the explosion occurred.
Barton said high winds contributed to the scale of damage caused by the explosion in Wednesday night that killed up to 15 people and injured more than 160.
Barton said state and local law enforcement officials need time to conduct their initial investigation before Congress considers holding hearings or initiates its own examination of what happened.
“We will certainly monitor the situation,” he said. “If they weren’t following the appropriate regulations, then that’s a different bucket of fish.”
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