In the Nation
Fertilizer plant faces safety-lapse fines
The Texas company that operated a fertilizer plant where an explosion in April killed 15 people is facing $118,300 in federal fines for two dozen serious safety violations, including failure to have an emergency plan, officials said Thursday.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which had not inspected the facility since 1982, said West Fertilizer Co. committed violations that included unsafe handling and storage of two fertilizers, anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical that investigators believe contributed to the blast that leveled swaths of the rural town of West.
Theories on shooter
The former police officer who opened fire on a federal courthouse in Wheeling, W. Va. waved people away before he started spraying bullets into the facade and was later shot dead by officers. Neither the FBI nor prosecutors would discuss the motive for the assault by Thomas J. Piccard, 55. But two possibilities emerged. U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld cited indications Piccard "had an antigovernment bias." Acquaintance Mahlon Shields said Piccard had told people he was dying of cancer. "I believe it was suicide by cop." - AP
Pipeline spews oil
About 20,600 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro Corp. oil pipeline in a wheat field in North Dakota, the state Health Department said Thursday. State environmental geologist Kris Roberts said the spill was discovered Sept. 29. Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that he wasn't told about it until Wednesday and that reporting procedures are being studied. - AP