Federal investigators trying to determine what caused a truckload of Takata airbag components to explode in Texas last month said that documentation they’ve reviewed indicates the parts were shipped properly.
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials continue to probe the deadly blast, which completely leveled a house in the border town of Quemado, Texas, August 22, killing one woman and injuring four others.
So far, shipping documents reviewed by the NTSB reveal no problems in the way the airbag inflators containing the highly unstable chemical compound ammonium nitrate were shipped.
“Initial indicators are that the materials were packaged properly. If the review of documents and other information shows cause to investigate, the NTSB will do so,” the NTSB said in a statement.
Ammonium nitrate, which is also used to make explosives for the construction and mining industries, creates a chemical reaction inside Takata’s airbags, causing them to inflate. The Japanese supplier has fallen under widespread criticism for using the cheap substance in its airbag inflators, which have been blamed for at least 13 deaths, including 10 in the U.S., and more than 150 injuries.
Fatalities and injuries occur when the Takata airbags erupt with too much force, often exploding and blasting pieces of metal shrapnel from the container at passengers. The defective airbags affect more than 100 million vehicles made by 18 automakers worldwide.
The NTSB will decide in the coming weeks whether to take its investigation of the Texas blast deeper. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward Markey (D-Cal.), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, are pressing the board for an intensified investigation.
In addition to deepening the investigation of the deadly Texas blast, the senators said they “also seek answers on what steps must be taken to ensure other towns and communities aren’t endangered by the shipment of ammonium nitrate on our highways.”