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Local chemical safety efforts

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Amarillo, Texas - There was a lot of concern anhydrous ammonia may have been leaked after the West, Texas explosion.

The chemical is used in fertilizer. It is a colorless, highly irritating gas with a sharp and suffocating odor. Local farmers tell us this gas can have serious effects including burning of the eyes, nose and throat after breathing small amounts and can even burn skin.

Anhydrous ammonia is often used here in our area by farmers.

Local farmers we spoke with today say anhydrous ammonia is often used along with other chemicals on their crops here in the panhandle.

Canyon farmer and rancher, Bob Lindsey says farmers go through extensive training on how to safely handle these substances, and are taught what to do if there ever is a fire or other incident.

The Amarillo Fire Department says their hazmat team is capable of handling chemical spills, and often do.

"Our hazmat team has got a mutual aid agreement with the whole entire panhandle, and we'll go anywhere that we're called because we do have the resources to help identify and do chemical sampling. Not only does it benefit the citizens here, but this actual program will benefit the whole panhandle if need be," Captain Jacob Oehlert, Amarillo Fire Department Community Relations says.

Oehlert says the majority of chemicals seen in our area that could cause an explosion similar to what was seen in west come through on rail car or trucks on I-40.

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