Local officials won't change procedures on chemical reports, despite state changes
Local officials say they will not change the way they do things, even after the Texas agency that maintains records on chemical stockpiles chose to stop disclosing records. Those records include the storage of ammonium nitrate.
The Attorney General's office ruled that the Texas Department of State Health Services should not release the information unless instructed to do so. Attorney General Greg Abbott cited a post-9/11 security statute that requires keeping confidential information that could "assist in the construction of an explosive weapon."
Ammonium nitrate is believed to be the cause for the West Fertilizer Plant to explode just more than a year ago. It was an accident that killed 12 first responders, including three others. Since then there has been another fire at an ammonium nitrate facility, in Athens, Texas just less than a month ago.
The storage and placement of chemicals around the county is something emergency officials believe is necessary for the public to know. That is why local emergency management officials will continue to update and keep track of these hazardous facilities in the community.
"It is also good community awareness as to what is in your neighborhood, what is around you, what can impact you. Because you know that in emergency management we always try to educate people of is to prepare yourself for any type of disaster or emergency," Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Patterson said.
Patterson says his office does have an interactive map to show where all the hazardous chemical facilities are in the county. His office is in the process of updating that map.
If you would like to see where those hazardous chemical facilities are located, click here.