LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The explosion that happened in Beirut has the safety and protocol of ports at the forefront of people’s minds and authorities at the Little Rock Port say it’s an unlikely event that it will happen here.
Director Bryan Day with the Little Rock Port authority says that all ports are set up relatively the same.
“That’s kind of what ports are set up for you are you moving these goods in a huge bowl by rail or Barger ship and while I report a little bit different generally speaking parts are designed to handle those kind of commodities,” said Day.
The Little Rock Port used to manage ammonia nitrate, which is believed to be what caused the massive explosion in Beirut and also the explosion that happened at the west fertilizer company in Texas back in 2013.
“Because it’s a highly regulated commodity they require certain facilities in certain processes and for us to continue handling that commodity would’ve been a major investment,” said Day.
Day says there are some flammable commodities that the port does handle, UREA fertilizer, fossil fuels, and ethanol but there are specific protocols for handling those materials. The port is also patrolled by homeland security. There is 24-hour surveillance, physical barriers, and a class-A fire department. The 4,000 acres that the port encompasses also has a built-in safety measure.
“We do not have the volume a commodity that would cause an event like we saw in Lebanon that was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime explosion is incredible but we do have commodities out here that are flammable that could catch fire that could create problems nothing like what we saw there,” said Day. “It’s a large as well spread out well-defined system unlike what we saw in Lebanon, which was kind of in a mall congested urban environment we don’t have that here and those volatile commodities that we’ve talked about are there, not next to each other.”
Day says most people even forget that Little Rock has the Port, but understand the sudden attention it is getting after what happened in Beirut and wants to assure people that Little Rock should not see anything remotely close to what happened there.
“I’m not worried, I think that the industries that manage these commodities the systems we have in place have set us up to create a pretty secure and safe environment,” said Day.
The Port also says some of their operations are 24-hours a day and that adds to the extra layer of monitoring that occurs at the Port and that all of the flammable commodities that are handled by the Port are spread out enough where they don’t interact.