You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

93 local sites store hazardous chemicals

South Charleston man wonders if explosions could happen here.

A South Charleston resident expressed concern about the storage of anhydrous ammonia near his home after he watched video of the massive explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant.

Jim Dempsey, a funeral director and resident of South Charleston for 40 years, said the incident led him and his co-workers to question whether local emergency crews are prepared to handle a chemical fire at Trupointe, a regional farm cooperative about a mile from his home.

“It’s a horrific tragedy that has taken place,” Dempsey said. “It’s one of those things as citizens of South Charleston that we’re all concerned about and how our authorities here would handle it. I’d never thought of it when it was built, but now that this has happened in West, Texas, it brings that thought to mind.”

Trupointe officials said environmental and employee safety are extremely important to the company.

Anhydrous ammonia is a potentially volatile chemical suspected of causing or contributing to Wednesday’s explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that had two 12,000-gallon tanks of anhydrous ammonia.

The blast left as many as five to 15 people feared dead, sent at least 180 people to hospitals and leveled buildings.

Anhydrous ammonia, which is used commercially in manufacturing, refrigeration and agriculture, is a colorless gas with a pungent smell. Exposure to ammonia in sufficient quantities can be fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Storing 10,000 pounds or more of anhydrous ammonia requires a risk management plan. Plans detail how staff members are trained, how a company reports the amount of product it has on hand and maintenance requirements, said Heather Lauer, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman.

According to Ohio Department of Agriculture documents, there are 61 commercial fertilizer license holders in Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Hamilton, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Butler and Warren counties.

Those companies include fertilizer manufacturers and distributors, said Erica Hawkins, a Department of Agriculture spokeswoman.

“There is very little full-blown manufacturing that is going on in Ohio,” she said.

In and near Clark County, 93 facilities are required to report hazardous chemicals at their facilities. At least 11 of those have anhydrous ammonia, according to the Clark County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

The facilities annually report the information to the Ohio EPA, the county LEPC and fire departments.

Clark County Emergency Management Agency Director Lisa D’Allessandris and Deputy Director Ken Johnson said the local EMA performs site visits and safety exercises in preparation for a disaster.

The explosion in Texas and bombings at the Boston Marathon this week prompted conversations between the local agency and the Ohio EPA, hazmat teams and facilities with hazardous materials.

“Everybody is constantly working to make sure safety measures are in place. This is one significant incident. Something like this doesn’t happen on a regularly basis. We hope it never happens, but feel we’re prepared if it does,” Johnson said.

Officials added training and made environmental changes after the massive R.D. Holder Oil fire in 2012, D’Allessandris said, and they plan to review reports related to the Texas plant explosion for any additional changes needed.

Trupointe takes the utmost precaution to prevent accidents, spokesman Phil Altstaetter said. The cooperative complies with Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and has passed safety audits.

“We have a team of four employees — or 1 percent of our workforce — who focus not only on safety of the company and its employees, but the communities that we are a part of,” he said.

Dempsey, who has been part of the Ohio Funeral Director Mortuary Response Team since 1991, said he’s responded to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Trupointe has been a good neighbor, he said, but because agriculture is big, emergency crews should be prepared.

“It would be difficult for me to fathom that happening in Clark County. But I’m sure (the local) EMA, fire departments and Trupointe are all looking into the situation after what happened,” Dempsey said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Foggy conditions early, temperatures drop this week
Foggy conditions early, temperatures drop this week

Early heavy fog for parts of the Miami Valley Rain chances higher today and even higher Monday Temperatures slowly falling this week Chance for snow returns by the end of the week TODAY: Mostly cloudy with highs in the middle to upper 50s. Chance for rain in the evening and overnight. TONIGHT: Showers possible. Temperatures falling into the middle...
Baker of Trump's inauguration cake says she was commissioned to copy Obama's
Baker of Trump's inauguration cake says she was commissioned to copy Obama's

Celebrity pastry chef and Food Network star Duff Goldman took to Twitter early Saturday to point out that President Donald Trump’s inauguration cake appeared to be an exact replica of the cake he designed and created for Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration. In a message posted to his Twitter account, Goldman included a side-by-side...
Springfield High School debates major overhaul
Springfield High School debates major overhaul

A major overhaul of how Springfield High School is structured could stop students from getting lost in the system, district leaders believe. Currently the high school has five academies that each of its nearly 2,000 students selects, which were intended to provide career paths and create a smaller-school environment in the large building after North...
'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin
'Saturday Night Live' takes swipe at Trump inauguration attendance – minus Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin's absence didn't stop "Saturday Night Live" from taking yet another swipe at President Donald Trump.
10 sassy signs from women's marches around the world
10 sassy signs from women's marches around the world

As crowds flooded streets Saturday for women's marches around the world, many protesters carried signs bearing bold statements and witty slogans.
More Stories