Located off of the Daniel Road Exit on I-44 is Helena, a company that for years has stored and used the chemical anhydrous ammonia. "At least once a year our fire department goes out there and does a walk through, and kind of learns where everything is stored so they can kind of be on the top end of things. Whenever if something was to go wrong they kind of know what they're dealing with and what's in certain locations," said Detective Jeff KRC, Emergency Management Coordinator.
James Reed, Branch Manager for Helena in Burkburnett said, anhydrous ammonia is used across the country, as a fertilizer to promote plant growth. A number of safety measures are taken at Helena to ensure the chemical is contained and the public is safe.
Detective KRC says, Burkburnett is better equipped to deal with a situation, like the explosion in West. "Burkburnett has a pretty big buffer zone around it, a little bit better buffer zone than West did around it, before it does reach the residential neighborhoods," said KRC.
Burkburnett is also at an advantage because of location. If additional help is needed, it isn't far away. KRC said, "we also have better resource we can go grasp of. We have Sheppard Air Force Base, is pretty close to us, it's pretty good at that. We have Wichita Falls, that has an extensive hazmat team."
Fred Hall, County Extension Agriculture Agent for Wichita County says some safety measures used when storing anhydrous ammonia are; thermal shock prevention, pop-up valves to prevent pressure build-up, and the chemicals can't be stored close to another. He says a logical assumption for the plant explosion in west is that there was a catastrophic failure.
Detective KRC says residents of Burkburnett should sign up for the Emergency Code Red system. This allows police to notify residents of emergency situations by phone and by text for the deaf. To sign up for Code Red...Click here.