Nov 7, 2013 1:59 AM by Jim Hummel
Acadia Parish is home to 264 facilities that store some type of hazardous materials, and like other parishes, those facilities are under the watchful eye of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
"There are a couple of fertilizer plants in the parish," said Lee Hebert, the department's director for Acadia Parish.
In compliance with EPA requirements, Acadia Parish holds Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meetings and reviews the parish's emergency response plan on an annual basis.
"If something happens, it's going to take a lot longer to respond if you don't have something in place, so the better prepared you are the quicker the response time you're going to have to get things under control," said Hebert.
The parish is one of three in Acadiana that has facilities that store ammonium nitrate, the primary chemical blamed for the explosion earlier this year in West, Texas. In light of that tragedy, changes are happening within the industry.
"The state has really encouraged all the fertilizer dealers in the state to limit their sales of ammonium nitrate," said Michael Hensgens with G&H Seed in Crowley. "Urea being a lot more safe than ammonium nitrate, we don't need to stock ammonium nitrate anymore, we have not lost a customer or dissatisfied a customer by not having it."
After the disaster in Texas, the Obama administration has pushed for a review of the recommendations for handling and storing ammonium nitrate. The EPA issued a new safety protocol for ammonium nitrate in August.