A chemical plant accident in West, Texas, at 7:50 p.m. CDT on April 17, 2013, killed 15 people, injured about 200 and destroyed 80 homes. The explosion occurred when ammonium nitrate located at the West Fertilizer Company exploded. It was later discovered that the company had stored much more of this substance than it was supposed to without receiving oversight from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The West Fertilizer Company was storing 270 tons or 1,350 times the amount that would trigger safety oversight by the DHS, 400 pounds. Although major changes had been made related to the storing of this chemical after the Texas City disaster in 1947, it is clear that not enough has been done yet. Those who do become or have been involved in a chemical plant accident are encouraged to contact an industrial accident lawyer to ensure that all of their rights are being protected. Unfortunately, a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that was made public this week stated that the current regulations do not allow the federal government to know about many companies that are storing this chemical or how much of it is on site. This needs to be improved if the chances of a petrochemical plant accident happening in the future are to be lowered to as close to zero as possible. Although there are 1,345 facilities listed in the federal database as storing ammonium nitrate, it appears that there are twice as many additional ones that should be listed there but that are unaccounted for. This appears to be the case due to legal loopholes, companies simply not complying with the regulations that do exist and a lack of communication between the federal government and the states as well as substandard communication between the regulators and the companies on what the regulations are. The report also pointed out that the safety standards that are in place in the United States are not nearly as stringent as those found in countries like Canada and Great Britain. For example, the United States allows things like wood to be used in facilities storing this chemical even though it is highly flammable. One of the major issues is that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rarely inspects places that store this chemical. This is primarily due to the fact that it has not regarded it as a hazardous material. In fact, the OSHA had cited just one company related to this issue in its 40-year existence prior to the explosion in Texas, and that only occurred after an employee filed a complaint. That incident occurred in 1997. Additionally, OSHA did not clearly communicate the regulations that it did have in place in regards to ammonium nitrate, and many of these companies that were storing it had incorrectly believed that the requirements did not apply to them if the chemical was being used for non-explosive purposes. The report released by the GAO also noted that facilities with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from these inspections. The GAO proceeded to make a recommendation to Congress that it should eliminate this exception. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as a federal working group that President Barack Obama put together in light of the explosion in West is expected to submit a report in late May that will streamline this process and create safer conditions in these plants. The OSHA also said that it is looking at ways that it can use its limited funds to inspect facilities on a much more regular basis than it has in the past.