Many agencies monitor processing plants - FOX 13 News

Many agencies monitor processing plants

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Even though there are a number of phosphate processing plants in the Tampa Bay area, safety officials say that it is highly unlikely we will see a situation like the one in West, Texas happen here.

In West, a fire, followed by a massive explosion, leveled almost an entire town -- causing death, injury and chaos.

In Polk County, fire rescue officials say they work closely with phosphate plants, which are monitored by local, state and federal agencies.

Over the years, they say there have been fire, ammonia leaks and chemical spills in the plants, but they have never caused any damage to the surrounding community.

"I can't remember the last time we had to evacuate the local neighborhood because they were spreading off the plant," Deputy Chief Mike Linkins told FOX 13 on Thursday.

Linkins has been with Polk Fire Rescue for almost 28 years. Linkins says even if something were to spread outside a plant, the community would be buffered. The phosphate companies here are surrounded by substantial undeveloped land.

George Katzaras, a chemical engineer and spokesman for Mosaic, points out another major difference in the operations. In West, the plant produces a highly flammable fertilizer. At The Mosaic, the plant doesn't.

Watch Ken Suarez's full report in the video player above.

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