The deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West was a wake up call for some emergency management officials in the Brazos Valley.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee, or LEPC, responsible for preparing for similar emergencies in Grimes County has been inactive for the past year. However, they will begin meeting again this month to prepare for disasters involving hazardous materials.
"In West...they have an LEPC in that county, but kind of like ours did, it had kind of gone inactive," said David Lilly, Emergency Management Coordinator in Grimes County.
Lilly says area industries lost interest in participating in the committee, but the deadly explosion in West was a reminder of how important it is for emergency responders to know what hazardous chemicals are in the community.
"My job is to foresee what kind of hazards exist in the county and help us be better prepared to respond to them," said Lilly.
Lilly says Grimes County's emergency planning committee is made up of county officials, health care responders, and representatives from industrial companies that have hazardous materials on site. The goal of the LEPC is to share information, so emergency responders can be better prepared for specific disasters they may face.
"Depending on the nature of the incident, it can have a big impact on how they respond," said Lilly.
In West, the 12 first responders killed in the blast were there fighting a fire at the fertilizer plant. Hundreds of people were injured and dozens of homes were leveled in the explosion.
Lilly hopes industrial leaders in Grimes County will participate and provide feedback to the emergency planning committee.
"We'll be able to prevent that or at least reduce the impact on our community again by keeping them better informed," said Lilly.
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