Citizens hope Athens city leaders will restrict hazardous materi - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Citizens hope Athens city leaders will restrict hazardous materials

Athens fertilizer storage facility fire on May 29. (Source: KLTV Staff) Athens fertilizer storage facility fire on May 29. (Source: KLTV Staff)
ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - The people of Athens paid close attention as city leaders discussed the future of hazardous chemicals in the city during a council meeting Monday.

This comes after an Athens fertilizer storage facility burned to the ground more than a week ago. We’ve learned the city is trying to determine how much of certain chemicals can be stored around the City of Athens. Residents said they hope their city leaders move forward with strict regulations.

The decades old fertilizer storage facility burned fast, and one week later residents hoped images of those flames would jar city leaders enough to make a difference. “It puts my life in danger. It puts everybody’s lives in danger who works, commutes to Athens, through even going to Tyler, going to Gun Barrel,” Cevyn Dunlap, an Athens resident and downtown employee said.

It sat just blocks away from downtown Athens where businesses thrive and residents gather and that’s one of the biggest concerns around the city. “I think the location probably should have a lot to do with it. Something downtown here you should certainly limit the amount, if any,” Jon Garrett, an Athens business owner, said.

Though nobody was killed or injured in Athens, it’s the potential and the memories of what happened in West one year ago.“I actually happen to work right beside the fertilizer plant and after what happened in West, Texas, I mean, it’s very dangerous to the citizens of Athens and really the surrounding counties,” Dunlap explained.

Garrett agreed and said he was certain his downtown businesses would have been damaged had it been like the West explosion.“No, we certainly wouldn’t be doing this interview here, because I was standing here when it happened, it would have decimate this small town.”

The Athens storage facility held 70 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. That’s twice the amount housed at the West facility when it exploded.“Maybe this stuff’s not that dangerous if you store it the correct way, so maybe the public needs some education on it also,” Garrett said. He added, “I think there should have been something done then and I’m sure there will be something done now.”

Fire officials said the storage facility was operating within guidelines and had been closely monitored since the West explosion.

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