During a Winston-Salem public works committee meeting, councilmembers tasked with brainstorming rule changes that could prevent disasters like the Winston Weaver fire kept circling back to one big question: 

“Is there another fertilizer plant type example out there somewhere that we should be worried about?" asked Councilmember John Larson. 

Public records show several facilities in Forsyth County store hazardous chemicals that could pose risks. 

All companies that store certain chemicals are required to submit inventory reports to the state each year. The 2021 reports show that at least six facilities in Forsyth County store what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls “reactive highly hazardous chemicals which present a potential for a catastrophic event.”

They are DFA Dairy Brands Fluid, Tri-Seal, Stratford Metal Finishing, Tex-Tech Coatings, Ecolab Kay Chemical Company, and Ardagh Metal Packaging. 

At Tuesday's meeting, planning director Chris Murphy said several factors can determine the risk level posed by a particular facility. 

“A lot of it just depends on when the facilities were constructed, under what building codes they were constructed and that determines how things are stored, and then also what kinds of fire suppression systems are on site," said Murphy. "But yeah, I mean, it wouldn't be surprising to know that there are things all over the city that have the potential to be dangerous."

Council members directed staff to work with the fire department and emergency management officials to determine which industries pose the greatest risks, and what changes to building code or zoning rules could best help prevent future accidents. 

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