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Plans in Place By School District, Fire Dept. Near Ballinger Fertilizer Plant

Asst. Fire Chief Brent Allen of the Ballinger Fire Dept. knows concerns in town are heightened after the devastation from the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last week.
Asst. Fire Chief Brent Allen of the Ballinger Fire Dept. knows concerns in town are heightened after the devastation from the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last week.

He also knows the 23-man Ballinger Fire Department is as prepared for a similar disaster as they can be.

"If we have something out there and we feel it's getting worse and worse, we'll start evacuations and move people out as quickly as possible," he explained Monday morning. "And we'll gather the emergency services, police department, whoever we need."

Buddy's Plant Plus, which manufactures and ships Scott's Miracle Gro at it's facility right off Highway 158, has been a staple in town since 1988.

"If you don't know the plant is there, I don't know where you've been," laughed Allen.

But after the tragedy in West, it's forcing many, including BFD, which performs yearly inspections at the location, to take a closer look at safety procedures in place.

"So we'll go tour it on Thursday, our drill night, and take a look at some of the concerns, nothing major, but we'll talk through it," Allen said.

Meanwhile, the high school sits directly across the street -- they also have a plan, including HAZMAT evacuations and on-site lockdowns, ready to go.

"We're no more concerned than someone should be who is on a busy highway," said Will Brewer, superintendent at Ballinger ISD.

While many of the homeowners near the fertilizer plant we spoke with on Monday said they were more concerned after last week's tragedy, one man said he was not the least bit worried.

Not only is Alton Fisher's business just yards away from the plant, his home is also right next door.

Despite the proximity and the past, Fisher said he is not the least bit concerned.

And here's why:

"The product they have is primarily raw material. That doesn't bother me, whereas if it was a mixture, now that's a different story," he explained.

The owner of Buddy's is out of town until Friday.

The company released the following statement to KTAB on Monday:

While our hearts and prayers go out to the people injured in the West Texas Fertilizer explosion, we here at Buddy's understand the concern that the community has with being so close to a fertilizer plant. Please understand there are different types of facilities that manufacture fertilizer. The West Texas plant manufactured liquid fertilizer using anhydrous ammonia gas. Here at Buddy's we only manufacture dry fertilizer for yards and water-soluble fertilizers which are very stable. In this process a few of our raw materials are potentially dangerous. We handle these with the utmost care and safety precautions. We also follow all state and federal guidelines.  Certainly in any manufacturing facility there is always the potential for an accident. Here at Buddy's we take every precaution to ensure your safety and ours.
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