|Updated: 4/25/2013 9:28 am
||Published: 4/24/2013 8:24 pm
With four fertilizer manufacturing plants in Oklahoma, many have been wondering if an explosion like the one at a similar facility in the town of West, Texas could happen in Oklahoma.
One of the biggest fertilizer manufacturing plants in the country is in Verdigris at the Port of Catoosa.
Gary Collins, a spokesman for the Terra Ammonia plant owned by CF Industries, told FOX23 News the plant maintains safety standards far more stringent than the minimum industry requirements.
In fact, OSHA rated the plant a "Star facility," the highest safety status a work site can achieve.
"I don't really hear much," Clifford Griffis, who lives near the plant, said. "I wait on their semi trucks every once in awhile, and that's about the extent of it. I've been here 21 years and I don't think much about the plant."
Griffis isn't too worried about something going wrong at the facility, even though he only lives about a quarter of a mile away.
"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," he said. "I mean, you know, we're right there by it."
Collins declined to give FOX23 News a tour of the facility, and also declined an interview on camera. But he did talk to FOX23's Ian Silver on the phone about the safety measures at the plant.
Collins said the plant pumps out about 3,200 tons of fertilizer every day. The plant produces two different types. Urea Ammonium Nitrate is a non-flammable, non-hazardous liquid, according to Collins. The second type is Anhydrous Ammonia, which can be hazardous.
But Collins said the plant was designed with numerous safety features, including mechanisms that would completely shut the plant down if a leak or fire were to be detected.
Collins also said that aside from machines monitoring the safety of the facility, several of the plant's 170 employees also monitor safety 24 hours a day.
Collins also told FOX23 News the plant produces zero Ammonia Nitrate, a product that may have contributed to the explosion in West, Texas. It was also used in the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.
FOX23 News tried contacting OSHA and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to confirm the information Collins gave about the CF Industries plant, but had not heard back as of Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, Griffis said the only accident he knows of the plant having was a semi truck overturning after leaving the plant.
But since the plant sits on about 650 acres, many of which are simply a buffer zone to protect nearby neighborhoods if there is an incident, Griffis isn't too worried about something bad happening at the plant in the future.
"They gotta put the business somewhere, and I guess, you know, we built the houses around it," he said.
To maintain its OSHA-designated "Star facility" status, Collins said the plant must conduct a self-audit on compliance every year. And every three years OSHA sends a crew to inspect the plant. The last OSHA inspection was in 2012.
The plant is also monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.