Inquiry into Texas blast plagued by regulatory gap

HOUSTON (AP) — A fertilizer plant that exploded in Central Texas last week, killing at least 14 people, could have stored up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate.

But investigators say they don’t know how much of the explosive chemical was kept at the fertilizer company in West, Texas, because of gaps in government regulations. Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blast.

The Department of Homeland Security requires companies with more than 400 pounds of ammonium nitrate to register for possible security screening. The Texas company didn’t register, but it wasn’t clear whether it needed to comply.

Owners of West Fertilizer have said in a statement that they are cooperating with investigators but have not commented on the explosion.

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