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City of West reaches $10M settlement over deadly fertilizer plant explosion

The City of West will be paid more than $10 million through settlements from a negligence lawsuit it filed over the deadly 2013 West Fertilizer Plant explosion.

Specifically, West City Council approved a $6.4 million settlement with fertilizer manufacturer CF Industries, a $3.9 million deal with the El Dorado Chemical Company, and a $143,000 settlement with the plant's owner and agricultural service company Adair Grain Inc.

"I am very satisfied," Mayor Tommy Muska said when reached by phone. "It has been a long time coming."

The city's lawsuit alleged those companies were negligent in selling or distributing the agriculture grade ammonium nitrate involved in the explosion and that the defendants failed to provide proper warnings about the dangers of storing and handling the product. The defendants have always maintained they were not responsible for the April 17, 2013 explosion.

In 2016, federal investigators announced the explosion had been caused by a fire deemed to be arson. That initial fire led to a massive blast that killed 15 people, injured more than 200 and destroyed hundreds of homes. The blast severely damaged city streets, water lines and the city's sewer system. The person or people responsible for the fire have never been identified nor captured.

“The resolution brings to a conclusion more than four and a half years of litigation by the City against the fertilizer manufacturers,” Steve Harrison, one of the lawyers representing the city, said in a statement. “This is a very good outcome for the community and we could not be more pleased for the folks of West.”

If the settlement had not been reached, a jury trial was scheduled to begin this month. Harrison estimated it might have lasted eight weeks and appeals could have dragged on for three or four years.

Approximately 100 lawsuits have been settled related to the explosion.

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