Albany area has chemicals that can be volatile - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany area has chemicals that can be volatile

Albany Fire Chief and EMA Director James Carswell Albany Fire Chief and EMA Director James Carswell
Ammonia nitrate and anhydrous ammonia are commonly used in chemicals in South Georgia Ammonia nitrate and anhydrous ammonia are commonly used in chemicals in South Georgia
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The search continues for victims of the explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant. The blast claimed at least five lives, and left homes, buildings, and a community, destroyed.

Ammonia nitrate and anhydrous ammonia, like that suspected to have exploded in the Texas plant, are commonly used in chemicals dealing with everything from refrigerant to fertilizer at most South Georgia industries.

So emergency management officials say it is possible it could happen here.

"It's one of those things. You never say never. We are exposed to chemicals in our everyday lives and so based on that it's possible that it could happen," said Albany Fire Chief and EMA Director James Carswell.

Many industries across South Georgia use these types of volatile chemicals and occasionally store large amounts. So emergency management and first responders work with them to know the danger and prevent problems.

 "Some of the major industries in our community actually use it on a regular basis, and so that's one thing they like to do. In training to make sure that we can respond should there be an accident," said EMA Deputy Director Jim Vaught.

First responders say one of the more vulnerable areas for dangerous or volatile chemicals is on trains or trucks rolling through South Georgia towns everyday.

 "Because of the residential area the train comes through, obviously there are chemicals that go up and down that track everyday. 99 percent of the time they are safe, but all the takes is one accident to create a problem that we all have to react to," Carswell said.

Remembering the strong chemical odor leaked from a fertilizer company in Cordele, that was smelled in Alabama, the scope of a chemical event can be very large. It's something firefighters and first responders train for, because as we see from Texas an accident can lead to a fatal tragedy.   

Albany Firefighters hold emergency drills with several of the industries in Dougherty County, to prepare in case of a chemical accident. MillerCoors already has one planned for later this year with firefighters.

Last year firefighters from dozens of South Georgia communities received training in Albany on how they would deal with railroad cars that carry anhydrous ammonia in case of a derailment or accident.

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