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Texas Fertilizer Explosion Recalls French Disaster

Remains of a fertilizer plant and other buildings and vehicles after the plant exploded in West, Texas
Remains of a fertilizer plant and other buildings and vehicles after the plant exploded in West, TexasPhotograph by Larry W. Smith/EPA

The death and destruction caused by the explosion at a central Texas fertilizer factory was all too familiar to residents of Toulouse, France.

An explosion in September 2001 at a Toulouse factory that made fertilizer from ammonium nitrate—the same chemical used in the plant in Texas—left 31 people dead, injured more than 2,000, and caused over $3 billion in property damage.