Augusta plant shares safety plan after deadly Texas explosion - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Augusta plant shares safety plan after deadly Texas explosion

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

After a fertilizer plant near the town of West, Texas exploded Thursday; officials at the Potash fertilizer plant in Augusta say they have increased security measures.

Officials still don't know what caused the Texas plant to explode. The mayor of West believes about 35 people are dead and about 160 people were injured by the explosion.

That blast triggered a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, the shock of the explosion was heard as far as 45 miles away and buildings near the plant were leveled.  

Augusta's Potash plant is one of the largest fertilizer plants in the eastern United States and they use ammonium nitrate to treat fertilizer, as did the plant which exploded in Texas.

Homer Shepherd lives 10 minutes away from the Potash plant and he says he's worried many times that it would explode.

"It does concern me a lot because it's so close. Lots of times I hear these sirens going off," said Shepherd.

But Keith Wilson, Potash's Ammonia Technology Manager, says they're doing their best to keep their

employees and the community safe.

"It's something we work very hard to keep from happening in our facility," Wilson, said.

He says about 330 employees staff the plant that's been producing fertilizers for about 50 years.

Wilson says the Augusta Potash plant follows EPA approved risk management plans and they're prepared for the worst case scenario.

"We do training with the Augusta Richmond County EMA, including shared training activities and on-site drills," he said.

He says in the case of an emergency, Augusta Richmond County EMA will tell people in the community what to do.

He says they have trained staff to stop ammonia nitrate from spreading to the community.

"We do have foam fire extinguishers and water sprayed from a nozzle in a very fine mist form does a very good job of capturing ammonia vapor," Wilson, said.

Wilson hopes their safety precautions will give residents such as Shepherd some peace of mind.

Wilson says when the investigation into the West plant explosion is completed in a few months; they will review the findings to see if they need to improve their safety procedures.

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