Morning Security Brief: Texas Blast Origin Determined, Deadly Bombings in Pakistan, and More
Investigators determine the cause of the blast at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, a series of bombings kill more than 100 leading up to elections in Pakistan, and three environmental activists go on trial for breaking into a secure facility housing U.S. nuclear technology.
► Ammonium nitrate was the source of the blast at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that killed 14 and injured some 200 people, according to investigators. Reuters reports that the state fire marshal’s office, the lead investigator in the case, said they were able to narrow down the April 17 explosion’s origin to the fertilizer and seed building on the plant site. Ammonium nitrate, a dry fertilizer mixed with other fertilizers like phosphate, is used to promote plant growth. The chemical was used as an ingredient in the deadly 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.
► A series of bombings have rocked Pakistan as the country prepares for elections on Saturday, killing more than 100 and wounding countless others. The AFP reports that a blast on Tuesday killed 15 and wounded dozens including a candidate for the upcoming elections. Two other blasts in different provinces the same day killed at least another 15 people. The Taliban has condemned the upcoming elections, which will mark the end of the first full term of a civilian government, as un-Islamic. Another bombing on Monday at a campaign rally for two candidates left 23 dead. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.
► The trial of three environmental activists who broke into a secure facility storing U.S. nuclear technology begins today. Reuters reports that an 83 year-old nun and two others cut through a series of fences to break into an Oak Ridge, Tennessee, facility where enriched uranium is stored and vandalized the walls with spray-paint. The facility is also a main manufacturing site for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. The breach led to investigations by the Energy Department and Congress. Three federal officials, including the top official at the National Nuclear Security Agency, were reassigned after the break-in. The Oak Ridge facility said they’ve removed staff involved in the incident, installed more surveillance cameras, and replaced the group that manages security at the site.