"You know I think that when they had the explosion in West, Texas it probably raised a lot of eyebrows and people in our community are thinking 'Hey, that could happen in my community' and one of the first things we did as a fire department was to reach out to our local fertilizer places and just ask them some questions," explains Abilene Fire Lt. Mike Miller.
Lt. Miller says Abilenians should not worry about what chemicals are stored in the city. "You know, I don't know that that's necessary. I think that the citizens need to have confidence in their fire department and their local officials to know that we are the ones on top of that."
The debate over public knowledge of where chemicals are stored has been a toxic issue in the Texas governor's race. Democrat Wendy Davis says Republican Greg Abbott, the current Attorney General, is doing Texans a disservice by keeping the location of potentially hazardous chemicals a secret. Some emergency planning officials in Abilene agree.
"Essentially, I think that you have the right to know that something can hurt you so that you can move elsewhere or so that you can take corrective action on your part," says David Crymes, Chairman of the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
We spoke with some Abilene fertilizer dealers who explained they are regulated by the Texas Department of Agriculture, and none of the facilities store ammonium nitrate, which is the chemical involved in the deadly West explosion.
While the fire department concedes there are dangerous chemicals in and around Abilene, they say they know where the dangers are, and they have a plan to keep the community safe.
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