Off a dirt road connected to ever-flowing Interstate 35, a little metal sign on a wooden fence is the only indication of what lies ahead. Nearby, Buckley Powder, a mining and construction supply company, stores large quantities of ammonium nitrate, the source of the explosion at a fertilizer depot that killed at least 14 people and injured hundreds more last month in West.
In 2012, according to state records, Buckley Powder had as much as 90,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate in bins at this Central Texas plant — stored, according to Howard Wichter, Buckley’s chief financial officer, under conditions in which “nothing can happen to it.”
At a Country Fare restaurant tucked inside a truck stop not far from the bins, Lisa Slickerman, a waitress, said people who lived in the community nearby knew little about what was stored at the plant, but perhaps should have, especially after the West explosion.
“Nobody talks about it,” she said.