Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Breaking News

Local News

July 3, 2013

AFD refutes report

Assistant fire chief says fertilizer facilities are stable

ATHENS — Athens Fire Department Assistant Chief Brandon Blue spoke to the Athens Kiwanis Club Wednesday to refute some of the claims in recent media accounts concerning a fertilizer distribution site in the city.

Until the deadly explosion and fire in West, Texas, in April, businesses storing ammonium nitrate around the state operated without getting much attention. For years, tons of ammonium nitrate have been transported each week to and from storage at the Ag Services location on Larkin Street in Athens.

The business on Larkin Street, just a block from the courthouse square, was the focus of a June 19 report on WFAA TV (Channel 8) in Dallas.

“I’m not bashing Channel 8 or anything, but they made it seem like we’re sitting on a time bomb that’s just waiting to go,” Blue said. “They had very good intentions, trying to make people aware about what we actually have stored inside the city.”

The Channel 8 story raised concerns that the fertilizer was being kept in an old, wooden structure. The television report stated, “Nothing illegal is going on. In fact, what's inside is typically harmless.”

“In West, a lot of bad things happened at the right time,” Blue said. “I’m not saying it’s impossible here, but I’m saying it’s not probable.”

Blue said even if the ammonium nitrate is stored in a metal building with concrete walls, under the wrong conditions, it can still be hazardous.

“The problem is not the building. The problem is the product,” Blue said.

Blue said AFD went to the Larkin Street facility after the explosion in West to see if it was compliant with all of the regulations. The owner had complied with some minor deficiencies found in a previous inspection.

“Inside that building, it’s not all ammonium nitrate. There are just two separate bins that contain ammonium nitrate,” Blue said.

The trucks make deliveries to the building of 25 tons or more of ammonium nitrate, but most of it is soon on its way to the customers.

“That’s a considerable amount of ammonium nitrate,” Blue said. “But when they order that and store it there, about 80 percent to 90 percent is already sold. They don’t order that until they can distribute it to the ranches and farms.”

AFD has an incident action plan that tells the department how to respond to any fire at that location, Blue said. The Channel 8 report made it seem like the only plan of action would be to evacuate the building. Blue explained that would be the last resort in any location.

“That is the very last case scenario,” Blue said.

Blue said AFD trains its personnel to be ready for various types of emergencies.

“That’s not the only thing we practice,” Blue said. “We practice how to deal with car wrecks, grass fires and other things.”

Blue said the El Dorado facility on Farm-to-Market Road 753, just outside the city and near Athens Middle School, has also been checked out.

“After the situation in West, we did a more thorough investigation into both facilities,” Blue said. “We sent the county fire marshal and the chief out there (to the El Dorado facility) and we were really impressed with the operation out there. All of their buildings were pretty sound and up to date. It’s in great condition.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ADR logo.tif Special 5k walk, silent auction and bake sale scheduled for May 17

    Two fund-raisers have been scheduled to assist Trinity Valley Community College student Sasha Madsen, who was recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
    Madsen, 27, is currently without insurance and getting treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. All proceeds from the fund-raisers will go toward medical, travel and lodging expenses for the Madsen family.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-17 tvcc2.jpg Special 5k walk, silent auction and bake sale scheduled for May 17

    Two fund-raisers have been scheduled to assist Trinity Valley Community College student Sasha Madsen, who was recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
    Madsen, 27, is currently without insurance and getting treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. All proceeds from the fund-raisers will go toward medical, travel and lodging expenses for the Madsen family.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Possible drowning

    The Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department were searching for a man on Wednesday afternoon who may have drowned in Cedar Creek Lake. 
    Sheriff Ray Nutt said his department responded to a call for assistance from the Seven Points Police Department concerning two men who were boating on the lake, and ran into trouble between Seven Points and Gun Barrel City.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Water authority is born

    It would be hard for anyone under the age of 50 to imagine East Texas without the abundance of lakes in the region, providing water and sources of recreation.
    Many of the reservoirs in East Texas today, were created in the years immediately following the dusty, dry, decade of the 50s, when drought conditions left Texas parched for water. The rainfall all but stopped at the beginning of the decade and by 1957, 244 of the state’s 254 counties, including Henderson County, had been declared Federal Disaster Areas for lack of rainfall.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0577.JPG Time with the Easter Bunny

    Six-year-old Mayven Ingalls is shown enjoying the company of the Easter Bunny  at the annual Kiwanis Club Easter Egg Hunt for Special Needs kids at Kiwanis Park in Athens on Wednesday. A coordinator said the event was for students from Athens Independent School District. Tootsie the Clown also helped in the effort to bring enjoyment to the children.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif AISD to discuss meal prices

    The Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees will meet tonight at 6 p.m. in the District Support Center Board Room for its monthly meeting.
    Several action items are on the agenda, including the consideration of meal prices for the 2014-15 school year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif More burglary complaints

    The Athens Police Department continues to get numerous burglary complaints, and on Tuesday investigated a break-in of a vehicle parked at East Texas Medical Center.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • OBIThelen obit.JPG 104-year-old Henderson County woman passes

    Helen Eveleen DeAngelis Carbone was a woman who experienced a lot in life. It was on April 15 that she passed from this life peacefully at the age of 104.
    Carbone has been described as an interesting person with a lot of memories to share with everyone she met.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-16 beauty.jpeg Bursting with beauty

    A shining star already in her parents eyes,  Geraldine Nieto displayed her ray of beauty Sunday in Tyler to claim top status in the Sunburst Talent/Beauty Contest.
    The 5-year-old Athens resident is the daughter of Jaime and Karla Nieto.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dozens attend council meeting for recovery, transfer station

    Nathan Bullard, owner of Yellow Box Environmental LLC,  was at Gun Barrel City Hall to explain future development plans for property located at 546 Gun Barrel Lane.
    Bullard said he wanted to introduce himself and his company to the neighbors who own property close to his project.  
    Bullard was on hand to inform the public and address any concerns about the company’s plan to build a recovery and transfer station.

    April 16, 2014