UNT experts are available to comment on West, Texas, explosion

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 14:49

DENTON (UNT), Texas – University of North Texas experts are available to comment on the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, that has reportedly killed and injured several people.

Dr. David McEntire, professor of public administration, is available until 3 p.m. today (April 18) to discuss emergency management response and multi-organization coordination. Previously, McEntire conducted research on a 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., studying how organizations adapt, plan and improvise in an unfolding situation.  He can be reached at 565-2996 or david.mcentire@unt.edu.

Dr. Bob Bland, chair of the Department of Public Administration, can discuss zoning issues and the effect on West, Texas, where several homes were located near the plant. Bland can be reached at 940-565-4339 or robert.bland@unt.edu.

“The proximity of residential with industrial property poses particularly difficult challenges for smaller cities and towns,” Bland said. “Larger cities have enough space that they can isolate industrial areas of their community from the residential areas. For smaller cities, the issue becomes one of what type of industry to allow into the city and how to protect other property owners from hazardous events.”

UNT Associate Professor of Chemistry Guido Verbeck is available to speak with media about the chemistry behind the explosion, and the effects of interactions of ammonia and ammonium nitrate. Verbeck can be reached at 940-369-8423 or Gverbeck@unt.edu.

Verbeck studies energetic materials and detection of explosives in his lab.

Dr. Gary Webb, associate professor of public administration, teaches in the emergency administration and planning program and has conducted research on organizational preparedness for and response to disasters in the U.S. and abroad.

“There are two ways to look at the explosion in West,” Webb said. “On the brighter side, we are reminded of how incredibly resilient people can be in the face of tragedy. Residents surrounding the plant scrambled to help each other, first responders heroically rushed to the scene, and the community has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from cities and towns across the North Texas region. But on the darker side, we're also reminded of the wide range of threats we now face, including those posed by facilities like the fertilizer plant in West. Going forward we need to closely examine the safety and environmental regulatory structure in our state to prevent something like this from happening again.”

Webb can be reached by email at gary.webb@unt.edu.

Assistant Professor of Biology Amie Lund is available to talk about air quality hazards from ammonium gas, and possible effects from overall environmental exposure to dust and soot created from the explosion and fires.

Lund can be reached at 940-369-8946 or Amie.Lund@unt.edu.



UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108