ESRL Global Systems Division

Toxic Plume Dispersion Model Proves Successful in Chemical Fire

Magnablend Inc., a custom chemical blending, manufacturing, and packaging facility in Waxahachie, Texas, was set ablaze on Monday October 3rd when workers mixing chemicals sparked a fire. Residents and schools in the area were evacuated or instructed to follow shelter-in-place instructions to avoid contact with the chemical toxins being dispersed. The Dallas/Fort Worth Weather Forecast Office (WFO) was able to respond quickly to numerous calls from emergency managers and fire service personnel to provide toxic plume dispersion modeling support for the chemicals released during the fire using the Geo-Targeted Alerting System (GTAS). "This chemical plant fire reminds us of how important GTAS is and the role we can play in assisting local decision makers in an emergency involving toxins, said William Bunting, the Meteorologist In Charge of the DFW WFO.

GTAS, developed by NOAA/OAR/ESRL/GSD and FEMA, is a prototype implementation of the latest developments in plume modeling, high-resolution weather models, and network-enabled operations. GTAS provides operational decision makers (NWS WFO forecasters and emergency managers) with the tools necessary to collaborate and better define the impact of a toxic chemical or radiological release. During the fire, forecasters at the Dallas/Fort Worth WFO were able to quickly and accurately convey where the chemicals released from the fire would be dispersed and impact society. The chemical dispersion information generated was provided to fire service personnel on scene and emergency managers in cities surrounding the fire so that evacuation and shelter-in-place information could be provided to the public.

Contact information
Name: Greg Pratt
Tel: 303-497-7237
Greg.Pratt@noaa.gov