ProfNet Experts Available on Texas Plant Explosion

Apr 18, 2013, 17:30 ET from ProfNet

NEW YORK, April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Below are experts from the ProfNet network that are available to discuss various aspects of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. If you are interested in interviewing any of the experts, please contact them via the contact information at the end of the listing. To receive these updates by email, send a note to with the industries you cover, and we'll add you to the appropriate edition.

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EXPERT ROUNDUP: Texas Plant Explosion

Dr. Tim Murphy
Chair of Environmental, Safety and Health Management Program
University of Findlay
"In cases such as this, the first priority is always people. Then your focus turns to the facilities and the environment. There will need to be a massive cleanup effort after this explosion.  The water and soil in that community will be contaminated. And when chemicals such as these mix together, there will be many unknown chemicals created that will be a result of the contamination. This kind of explosion is devastating to the environment for many years to come."
Dr. Murphy has more than 25 years of experience in: first-response protocols in this kind of situation; fertilizer cleanup; the impact explosions such as this can have on the groundwater and the environment; what steps need to be taken to determine what happened; and how to prevent situations like this in the future. He has specifically spent 16 years of his career focused on fertilizer contamination issues.
Media Contact: Brianna Patterson,

Dr. Ronald Smaldone
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
University of Texas at Dallas
"Ammonium nitrate is probably familiar to most people as the explosive that was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. It is used mostly as a fertilizer, but also as a commercial explosive for mining and excavating.  It is much more stable than dynamite in that it is not shock-sensitive, but it can be detonated with a trigger, such as a blasting cap or high heat. Generally, compounds with a high nitrogen content are explosive under the right conditions, owing to the fact that they form nitrogen gas as a byproduct, which is extremely stable, therefore releasing a large amount of energy -- an explosion -- into the surrounding environment.  Ammonium nitrate is a good fertilizer for mostly the same reason -- the high nitrogen content, which is needed by plants for good growth."
Media Contact: Amanda Siegfried,

Bill Hildebrand
Protective Security Consultant
"From what I've seen reported on the explosion in West, Texas, the first responders went into emergency mode and evacuated all the residents in the area. It's going to be a big investigation, even if the explosion was an accident, because a blast that size will create a massive crime scene. From where they find the last piece of fragment from the explosion, they will double that to create the crime scene radius. So for example, if a piece of debris was found 300 yards from the explosion point, the crime scene will be 600 yards."
Hildebrand is a protective security consultant with Preparis, an emergency preparedness company providing training, technology and services. A former Atlanta Police Department law enforcement professional who served 21 years protecting the Metro Atlanta area, Hildebrand spent seven years as an investigator with the Homeland Security Unit as a critical infrastructure protection subject matter expert tasked with coordinating training. He is available to discuss the police response to any emergency, including explosions, bomb threats, active shooters, workplace violence, and hazardous chemical accidents.
Media Contact: Lauren Patrick,

Bryan Hill
Emergency Management Consultant
"As of now, the investigation is in the early stages. Signs are pointing to an accident and not an intentional explosion. We can provide businesses in the area training on how to react to the explosion, but for now they should stay away from the area. If they cannot leave, they should be advised to stay indoors and refrain from going outside until they have been given the 'all clear' from authorities. Hazardous chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, were being used at the plant to make fertilizer, and it's harmful if inhaled. If your building is in the path of the smoke plume, turn off the HVAC and remain inside with the windows shut. The cleanup and investigation will take time, especially with multiple fatalities."
Hill is emergency management consultant with Preparis, an emergency preparedness company providing training, technology and services. He has master's degree in public health from the University of Georgia, College of Public Health, with a graduate certificate in disaster management from the Institute of Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense. He is Advanced Disaster Life Support certified (ADLS) by the AMA and has completed several FEMA certification training courses. He is available to discuss emergency situations as they pertain to public health and the government's response.
Media Contact: Lauren Patrick,

Chuck Noteboom
Noteboom Law Firm
"When a family loses a loved one in an accident, the survivors are forced to deal with insurance companies and insurance claims at a time when they are overwhelmed by grief.  Insurance companies know victims and their families are vulnerable during these stressful times and often use tricks and lies to convince victims to settle their claims quickly without legal representation. The insurance company wants to settle wrongful-death cases before victims have time to fully measure financial losses.  Spouses, children, and even parents can be financially dependent on the deceased individual and are entitled to compensation for the loss of financial support.  In addition, Texas law allows for compensation for the emotional suffering caused by the wrongful death."
Noteboom is experienced in handling a wide variety of wrongful death claims, including fatalities and injuries resulting from dangerous premises such as the explosion in West, Texas. He is chairman of the Warren E. Burger Society of the National Center for State Courts.  He is also a member of the American Bar Association, The American Association for Justice, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, and the Tarrant County Bar Association.  He served as president of the Tarrant County Trial Lawyers Association and is the former chair for the Tarrant County Bar Foundation.  He has been featured as an expert commentator radio and television and has spoken at various seminars.  He is the only lawyer in history to obtain two nine-figure jury verdicts in Tarrant County.
Media Contact: Dave Moore,

Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT
Director of Psychology Training
Montefiore Medical Center
"Over the next month, I'd be looking for signs of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), among those who were personally affected by this tragedy. ASD is characterized by four groups of symptoms: 1) dissociative symptoms (e.g., feeling detached from others, feeling like things are dreamlike or not quite real, or amnesia) during or after the explosion, followed promptly by: 2) re-experiencing symptoms (intrusive thoughts or images, flashbacks, nightmares), 3) avoidance of reminders of the explosion (e.g., not talking about it, not watching the news), and 4) feeling an increase in anxiety symptoms (e.g., more easily startled or on edge, difficulty sleeping, more irritable). These symptoms can occur anywhere from two days to a maximum of four weeks after the tragedy. While not the only psychological disorder possible, ASD is quite common after traumatic events such as this one."
Rego is an expert in the assessment and treatment of trauma and is available for interviews.
Media Contact: Mike Quane,

Frank L. Branson
Explosion Injury Lawyer
Law Offices of Frank L. Branson, Dallas
"This tragedy was compounded by the fact that this industrial operation was situated so close to homes, schools and businesses. More than ever, oil and gas production, underground utilities, and industrial sites are located near populated areas, which increases the risks of property damage, serious injuries, and deaths caused by explosions, fires, and industrial accidents."
Branson has extensive experience representing individuals injured in industrial accidents, including major industrial/manufacturing explosions, oil-and-gas pipelines and oil field accidents. Widely recognized as one of America's best trial lawyers, Branson provides clients with tenacious pre-trial preparation. In such cases, Branson's team mounts an exhaustive independent investigation using engineering professionals and other experts to reconstruct the fire and explosion and determine exactly what happened.
Media Contact: Robert Tharp,

Carole Lieberman, M.D.
Lieberman, "America's Psychiatrist," is the author of "Coping with Terrorism: Dreams Interrupted" and an expert on the psychological impact of disasters. She explains how people can prepare psychologically and physically, and how they can cope after a disaster occurs -- from a terrorist attack like the Boston Marathon to a tragedy like the Texas fertilizer plant explosion to natural disasters. Lieberman is a Beverly Hills board certified psychiatrist and expert witness, on the clinical faculty of UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute. She is also a bestselling author, TV personality, three-time Emmy Award-winner and talk-show host. She is called upon for a psychological perspective of today's headlines.
Expert Contact:

Robin F. Goodman, Ph.D., A.T.R.-BC
"With all the bad news -- the Texas plant explosion, the Boston bombing, gun-control votes related to Newtown, along with the everyday crime and trauma reported -- people may be feeling different things. Reactions can vary based on how physically close to the event/situation someone was and how close emotionally someone was to people impacted. Even those watching the news unfold, even if living far away, can be impacted. This can result in being overwhelmed, sad, have worried thoughts, feelings of helplessness physical upset, and angry behavior. However, there are some general helpful healing steps that people can take in the immediate aftermath."
Goodman is available to discuss some of the strategies people can take in the aftermath of disasters to cope with difficult feelings.
Expert Contact:

Jonathan Shoebotham
Attorney, Houston Office
Thompson & Knight LLP
Shoebotham is recognized as one of nation's leading defense attorneys in the area of environmental and personal injury litigation, with three of the cases he has tried to jury verdict selected by The National Law Journal as among the most significant defense verdicts in the United States. His experience includes representing manufacturers in liability and property damage claims arising from plant explosions. He is prepared to discuss the factors that investigators and insurers will be considering in determining cause and liability in this tragedy, and the overall process and time involved.
Media Contact: Barry Pound,

Steve Laird
Law Offices of Steven C. Laird
Laird is a personal injury attorney specializing in industrial accident and wrongful-death law. In the event that the explosion in West, Texas, was the result of a security breach, Laird can discuss liabilities the facility might face for not properly securing the hazardous material. Here is a paper he wrote on the topic of litigation resulting from inadequate security:
Media Contact: Dave Moore,

Phrantceena Halres
Total Protection Services International
Halres is CEO of Total Protection Services International, the only certified security services company focused exclusively on high-threat/close-proximity safety and security services for the protection of critical infrastructure assets in the energy, nuclear, corporate, government and personal protection sectors. She is available to discuss how security measures around this facility and other similar facilities around the nation might be impacted.
Media Contact: Merilee Kern,

Dr. Frances Edwards
San Jose State University
Dr. Edwards, a former director of emergency services for the City of San Jose, Calif., is an expert in disaster preparedness, emergency response, and recovery. She trains at the state and national level, and is a well-regarded national expert (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.), a textbook author, and an excellent interview.
Media Contact: Donna Maurillo,

Daniel Goodrich
Instructor, Security Management
San Jose State University
Goodrich, a former U.S. Marine, is an expert on explosions and security measures.
Media Contact: Donna Maurillo,

Brian Michael Jenkins
Director, National Transportation Safety and Security Center
Mineta Transportation Institute
Jenkins is an international expert in security and investigations, especially in counter-terrorism. However, many of those issues and techniques apply to local and non-terrorist incidents. He is a former Special Forces officer and security adviser to heads of state.
Media Contact: Donna Maurillo,

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