NPR logo
Officials Seek Answers In Aftermath Of Deadly Plant Explosion
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Officials Seek Answers In Aftermath Of Deadly Plant Explosion

Around the Nation


This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The search is over in the small town of West, Texas. On Wednesday, a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant there, killed at least 14 people. The mourning and the cleanup begin amid questions about the facility and its record. Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: With the house-to-house search over, and the living and dead largely accounted for, the town of West began the transition from shock and disbelief to communal grieving.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Leading congregation in singing) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...

GOODWYN: Friday night at St. Mary Church of the Assumption, mourners gathered to remember the dead. Many were first-responders who were fighting a roaring fire for 30 minutes before the explosion, which was felt 80 miles away in Fort Worth. Texas Sen. John Cornyn caused a stir when he suggested that there might be many more people missing than thought.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN: There's still about 60 people unaccounted for. And we need to make sure that everybody who can be accounted for, is properly taken care of.

SIMON: That had reporters scrambling for official confirmation; so much so that local law enforcement felt compelled to clarify the senator's remarks. County Judge Scott Felton.

JUDGE SCOTT FELTON: There was a list that came out, that had the number. I think 60 was mentioned. But really, the way that list was put together, if someone called in - let's say, from Dallas - and said, Aunt Susie didn't answer her phone, then we put Aunt Susie down as on the list of possible missing people, when it really - Aunt Susie doesn't answer her phone most of the time, anyway.

GOODWYN: The disaster, which destroyed a section of West, has raised questions about why the facility was not inspected more carefully. The last inspection by OSHA came all the way back in 1985. In a press conference, Gov. Rick Perry tried to address those questions.

GOV. RICK PERRY: Well, obviously, I think there will be a lot of both local and state - and probably federal oversight to that, at this particular point in time. But again, when you have local zoning, when you have state requirements and then you have federal requirements, those sometime - mesh; sometimes, they don't.

GOODWYN: Now that the search is over, control of the town is being turned back over to the mayor and city council. And the citizens of West will begin to trickle home to what's left.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, in the town of West, Texas.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.