Texas sized fertilizer plant unlikely in Hawaii, state says - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Texas sized fertilizer plant unlikely in Hawaii, state says

Gary Gill Gary Gill
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

What happened in West, Texas is a monumental catastrophe. A fertilizer plant exploded killing an unknown number of people, injuring at least 160 more and damaging several square blocks with homes, apartments, schools and nursing homes.

So can it happen in Hawaii?

"I don't think it's possible that anything of the scale that we saw in Texas can possibly here in Hawaii. We don't have that volume, we don't have that degree of manufacturing taking place," said Gary Gill, Department of Health Deputy Director.

Here's why not, manufacturing requires mixing large amounts of chemicals, which companies in Hawaii don't do.

Also ammonium nitrate, the chemical used at the Texas plant and used in the Oklahoma City bombing isn't widely available in Hawaii. The state says fewer than 15 places have used it.

According to the State Department of Health there are 850 different locations that store potentially dangerous chemicals. If people have large amounts of a dangerous chemical they have to report it to the state in order to develop an emergency action plan just in case.

The reporting threshold for hazardous chemicals includes more than 1,500 gallons of any type of fuel; more than 2,400 gallons of propane; and more than 500 pounds of hazardous chemicals like chlorine, anhydrous ammonia, sulfuric acid and others.

"If they're going to be moving that material, if its hazardous waste I have like 2,000 pages of rules and regulations that govern how hazardous material can be moved, and stored and transported," said Gill.

BEI Hawaii is the largest chemical and fertilizer distributor in the state. It has plenty of non-explosive liquid nitrogen fertilizers but a spokesperson doesn't believe what happened in Texas could happen here.

Still there are plenty other chemicals, corrosives and anhydrous ammonias used in Hawaii. So there is always potential for accidents. Is Hawaii prepared?

"I don't know if you can ever be prepared for something on that scale. You have a huge explosion, the responders prepare their whole life for this. The fire department is as prepared as you can expect any fire department to be," said Gill.

By the way the fertilizers you would find at hardware stores are not the explosive kind used in bombs.


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