Texas Explosion Shows Dangers Of Fertilizer Plants - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Texas Explosion Shows Dangers Of Fertilizer Plants

Posted: Updated:

KHQ.COM - Rescuers in the town of West, near Waco, Texas continue to comb ruins left from a massive fertilizer explosion Wednesday. 

The blast leveled homes and businesses and shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake. As many as 15 people could be dead and more than 160 are injured.  

Explosions at fertilizer plants are not common. However, the mix of gases and chemicals created during production are potentially dangerous.  

There is a facility in Post Falls, Idaho and another in Kennewick that is similar to the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. As for Spokane, there are fertilizer storage facilities in the area that also house ammonium. However, experts say the odds of an explosion like the one in Texas happening here is extremely low.  

"It is so rare, I do not think anyone has a good guess," said Jim Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the Far West Agribusiness Association. "I think it is going to be difficult just looking at the pictures of the explosion to figure out what's happening." 

The cause of the explosion at the plant in West, Texas has yet to be determined. So for now, no changes will be made at similar plants here in Washington.  

"In this particular isolated case we don't know what caused it," Fitzgerald said. "We don't know if there is a risk."

Although the explosion at a fertilizer plant is rare, the Spokane HAZMAT Team is prepared to handle it if it were to happen.  

"They have special training, special equipment and just an incredible amount of capability to be able to take care of those problems," said Spokane Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.   

Fire Station One in downtown Spokane has two HAZMAT trucks, along with crews on call that are trained to detect any kind of chemical.  

"We also have weapons grade instrumentation, so if there is a chemical used in a weapon of mass destruction, we have equipment that will identify and register that," Schaeffer said. 

There is even a database that keeps track of what businesses store high-risk chemicals.  

Recent events like the explosion in Texas and even the bombings at the Boston Marathon, help crews better prepare for worst-case scenarios in Spokane.   

"We are very dialed in when it comes to what happens nationwide, domestic or international terrorism," Schaeffer said.

Right now, the HAZMAT team has equipment on loan that could be used at Bloomsday this year. The equipment has several monitoring devices that can detect explosive material in a two-mile radius. Therefore, if someone were to walk by with an explosive of any kind, the monitor would send a signal to a laptop hooked up at the command center. That way, police could then go locate the explosive. 

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • WATCH: Cell Phone Video Of Sinking Ferry Released As 270 Are Still Missing

    WATCH: Cell Phone Video Of Sinking Ferry Released As 270 Are Still Missing

    Friday, April 18 2014 4:21 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:21:35 GMT
    MOKPO, South Korea (AP) - Searchers have now put markers on the surface of the water where the South Korean ferry went down. Part of the ship had remained above the surface until today, but now the entire vessel is submerged. They're continuing the effort to find some 270 people who are missing and feared dead.>>
    MOKPO, South Korea (AP) - Searchers have now put markers on the surface of the water where the South Korean ferry went down. Part of the ship had remained above the surface until today, but now the entire vessel is submerged. They're continuing the effort to find some 270 people who are missing and feared dead.
    >>
  • Man Identified In Fatal Crash Friday Morning On Bowdish Rd.

    Man Identified In Fatal Crash Friday Morning On Bowdish Rd.

    Friday, April 18 2014 4:13 PM EDT2014-04-18 20:13:11 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The man killed in an early morning crash on Friday has been identified as 34-year-old, Alejandro E. Apodaca. Just before 12:30, Apodaca crashed his car on S. Bowdish Rd. He was traveling South on Bowdish near 17th when he lost control of his car, uprooting a tree in the front yard of a home.
    >>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The man killed in an early morning crash on Friday has been identified as 34-year-old, Alejandro E. Apodaca. Just before 12:30, Apodaca crashed his car on S. Bowdish Rd. He was traveling South on Bowdish near 17th when he lost control of his car, uprooting a tree in the front yard of a home.
    >>
  • At Least 13 Sherpas Dead As Avalanche Sweeps Mount Everest

    At Least 13 Sherpas Dead As Avalanche Sweeps Mount Everest

    Friday, April 18 2014 12:10 PM EDT2014-04-18 16:10:21 GMT
    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - A Nepalese tourism official says six local guides have been killed and nine more are missing after an avalanche swept a route used to ascend the world's highest peak. Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal says the avalanche hit just below Mount Everest Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. Friday.>>
    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - A Nepalese tourism official says six local guides have been killed and nine more are missing after an avalanche swept a route used to ascend the world's highest peak. Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal says the avalanche hit just below Mount Everest Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. Friday.
    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • 3rd Person Arrested In Connection To With A McDonald's Robbery

    3rd Person Arrested In Connection To With A McDonald's Robbery

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:37 AM EDT2014-04-19 06:37:08 GMT
    UPDATE: Two suspects have been arrested in connection to the robbery that occurred Thursday evening at the McDonald's at 2200 W. Wellesley Ave. Major Crimes Detectives are also investigating the possibility these suspects are connected to other robbery incidents.>>
    UPDATE: Two suspects have been arrested in connection to the robbery that occurred Thursday evening at the McDonald's at 2200 W. Wellesley Ave. Major Crimes Detectives are also investigating the possibility these suspects are connected to other robbery incidents.
    >>
  • Judge Rules Taxpayers Won't Pay For Sex Offender Treatment

    Judge Rules Taxpayers Won't Pay For Sex Offender Treatment

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:36 AM EDT2014-04-19 06:36:00 GMT
    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has rejected Steven Powell's request to have taxpayers pay for his court-ordered sex offender treatment after a voyeurism conviction.Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper agreed Friday with the state attorney general's office that Powell cited the wrong statute when he made his request.>>
    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A judge has rejected Steven Powell's request to have taxpayers pay for his court-ordered sex offender treatment after a voyeurism conviction.Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper agreed Friday with the state attorney general's office that Powell cited the wrong statute when he made his request.>>
  • North Idaho Poachers Taking Heavy Toll On Game

    North Idaho Poachers Taking Heavy Toll On Game

    Saturday, April 19 2014 2:09 AM EDT2014-04-19 06:09:06 GMT
    LEWISTON, Idaho — Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say. Officials tell the Lewiston Tribune in a story on Friday that last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer.
    >>
    LEWISTON, Idaho — Poachers are likely killing far more game animals than wolves are, state wildlife officials in North Idaho say. Officials say last year in North Idaho they confirmed poaching of 30 elk, four moose, 13 mule deer and 57 whitetail deer.

    >>