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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • County developing plan in light of West, Texas, tragedy

  • Seeing the devastating effects of an April fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, Leavenworth County officials are now working to mitigate the potentially tragic effects should a similar incident occur here.
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  • Seeing the devastating effects of an April fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, Leavenworth County officials are now working to mitigate the potentially tragic effects should a similar incident occur here.
    Chuck Magaha, director of county emergency management, said Thursday that he watched the tragedy unfold in the small town of West, Texas, where first a fire and then an explosion at a fertilizer plant is being cited as the cause for at least 15 deaths, about 200 injuries and leveled buildings within about several blocks on April 17.
    “I'm trying to be proactive and not reactive on that event and learn from it,” he said, in preventing similar numbers of casualties here.
    Magaha said he began working with the director of the county's geographic information systems department, Jeff Culbertson, on locating and mapping fertilizer spots throughout the county.
    Magaha said staff identified five fertilizer-storing facilities in the county. Using that data, he said he is currently developing procedures tailor-made for those types of incidents at each location. It would make the disaster mitigation process easier.
    “In the event that that should catch fire, or we should have an incident, we'll have a quarter-mile or half-mile, up to one-mile ring around that color coding and a list of all the addresses and buildings that are within that, that we can make sure we have everything covered as far as the evacuation process,” he said.
    Magaha said he had hoped that inventory to be done this week, but suspects instead that it will be complete by the end of next week.
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