June 3, 2019
Using Advanced Analysis to Unravel the Mystery of the West, Texas Explosion
Scott Davis, President - Principal Engineer, Gexcon US
On April 17th, 2013, an explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas. The explosion at West Fertilizer resulted from an intense fire in the seed and storage area of the facility that led to the detonation of approximately 30 tons of ammonium nitrate stored inside a wooden receiving bin. The explosion occurred while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. Fifteen people were killed, more than 250 were injured, and numerous buildings were damaged or destroyed. This work presents the results of our investigation into the cause and origin of the explosion event, which included: (1) early video footage which showed the room where the initial fire originates; and (2) applying advanced blast techniques, including computation fluid dynamic (CFD), to determine the quantity of ammonium nitrate that likely detonated during the blast.