Environmental Health Perspectives
BACKGROUND: The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) investigated the April 17, 2013 explosion at the West Fertilizer Company (WFC) that resulted in 15 fatalities, more than 260 injuries and damage to more than 150 buildings. Among these structures were four nearby school buildings cumulatively housing children in grades K-12, a nursing care facility and an apartment complex. The incident occurred during the evening when school was not in session, which reduced the number of injuries.
OBJECTIVES: The goal of this paper is to illustrate the consequences of siting schools near facilities that store or use hazardous chemicals, and highlight the need for additional regulations to prevent future siting of schools near these facilities.
DISCUSSION: This paper summarizes the findings of the CSB's investigation related to the damaged school buildings and the lack of regulation surrounding the siting of schools near facilities that store hazardous chemicals.
CONCLUSIONS: In light of the current lack of federal authority for oversight of land use near educational institutions, state and local governments should take a proactive role in promulgating state regulations that prohibit the siting of public receptors, such as buildings occupied by children, near facilities that store hazardous chemicals.
Tinney, V., Denton, J., Sciallo-Tyler, L., & Paulson, J. A. (2016). School Siting Near Industrial Chemical Facilities: Findings from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board's Investigation of the West Fertilizer Explosion.. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124 (10). http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/EHP132