State leaders are working to prevent another disaster like the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that killed 15 people and injured 200 others in April.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is in the midst of conducting voluntary inspections at 152 facilities that store 10,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate or more, but not every plant is cooperating.
"Bottom line, we're just trying to prevent another West," State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said. "We have done 62 inspections so far, only five had said no."
Chris Connealy didn't name the five companies that declined an inspection, but did say management did not want them on property.
"These inspections have proven to be very helpful, and even those that don't allow us to inspect, we provide them information with best practices," Connealy said.
Since there is no state fire code, the department can't force companies to comply with their recommendations. However, Connealy did tell Chairman Rep. Joe Pickett they gave the five facilities’ names to the state chemist and the Department of State Health Services. Unlike the fire marshal, they do have the authority to conduct unannounced inspections.
As the story progresses, lawmakers continue to balance keeping the facilities safe without suffering the stigma that sometimes come with over-regulating in Texas.
"I don't want us to get into a situation where all of a sudden it's hard to do business because this is a very important product for the agriculture industry," Rep. Dan Flynn said.
The Fire Marshal's office is expected to complete its round of inspections by the end of October.
The investigation into what caused the plant to explode is ongoing. The assistant fire marshal said they have it narrowed down to three possibilities, and haven't ruled out criminal activity.
Follow-up forensic tests are ongoing as well. Those results won't be released until next year sometime.