Weatherford Democrat

April 27, 2013

Potential West scenarios reviewed locally

County officials double check facilities, plans following Central Texas disaster.


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE



The deadly explosion last week in West has prompted some Parker County leaders to re-examine emergency response plans and make sure they are as prepared as possible if an event does occur locally.

Springtown Police Chief Ed Crowdis said city police, ESD No. 1, the transportation director for Springtown ISD, the county’s emergency management office and Enbridge representatives recently met to go over the emergency management plan regarding the gas compressor facility located near the Springtown city limits. 

Should anything occur, they want everybody to be on the same page, Crowdis said.

They’ve also scheduled a tour to familiarize everyone with the facility, as well.

About one or twice a year, the group has a meeting regarding the emergency managment plan and runs an annual drill, the police chief said.

City Administrator Mark Krey and Crowdis discussed going over the plan again  following the fertilizer plant explosion in West that killed 14, injured more than 200 and destroyed many homes.

The proximity of the gas plant has always been a concern but it has always been addressed, Crowdis said.

“We’re very fortunate to have Chief [Eric] Vinson at ESD [No.] 1,” Crowdis said, adding that the fire district chief teaches a fire academy class on dealing with chemical fires.

“The folks at Enbridge are very good about working with the city,” Crowdis said. Those at the site let area responders know what they have, what the risks are and what the responders need in event of an incident, Crowdis said.

County wide

The county has a couple facilities that manufacture or store explosives but they are located in very rural, unpopulated areas, making it less likely an incident would cause the immediate devastation seen in West, according to Parker County Fire Marshal Shawn Scott.

A gas compressor facility in Springtown is a minor possibility, but overall, Scott said he doesn’t see as much of a potential of an explosion of the magnitude of West occurring in Parker County.

The proximity of the West plant to schools and residences and length of time the plant had been there created an unusual situation in West, Scott said. To his knowledge nothing similar exists locally.

Scott said the events in West do provide an opportunity to local officials to go back and review response plans and learn from the situation.

He watched the news and listened to audio from the response and thought about what he would do in a similar situation, Scott said.

However, just because facilities posing an explosion risk aren’t located in such close proximity to populated areas as in West, doesn’t rule out the possibility of similar disaster in Parker County.

“Ammonium nitrate rolls down the rail lines through Parker County every day,” Scott said, adding that incidents could occur involving transportation on the highways as well.