Provost Umphrey's Zona Jones, along with Steve Harrison of Waco's Harrison Davis Steakley Morrison represent many families pursuing civil claims related to the 2013 West fertilizer explosion. Jones and Harrison issued the following statement after the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) press conference on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
“There has been some misinformation about what ATF was announcing today. As McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna and ATF Agent in Charge Robert Elder stated, the ATF is looking at the cause and origin of the fire. The storage of the ammonium nitrate that exploded was not part of the ATF investigation. The ATF did not investigate what exploded, why it exploded or who knew that it could explode. All of that is the subject of civil litigation to be heard by a McLennan County jury.”
Texas Watch, statewide citizen advocacy organization that works on issues related to community safety and accountability, also released a statement regarding the ATF findings.
"The ATF held a press conference today speculating that the fire at the West fertilizer plant was a criminal act. They offered no scientific evidence for their conclusion, only that they claim to have ruled out other possible causes. Today’s media event did little to clear up the confusion about the events leading up to the fire at the West plant three years ago.
One thing is clear: ammonium nitrate is extremely dangerous. And, manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure it is distributed and handled safely using well-known safety protocols. In West, they failed to do so.
As a result, 15 Texans died, hundreds more were injured, and property damage estimates have topped $200 million," says Alex Winslow, executive director or Texas Watch.
The next trial for the West fertilizer cases is set to begin on July 25 in McLennan County.