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Pupdaddy
Advisor

Fertilizer plant fire effects

Sooooo......How many anhydrous ammonia plants that were in the "planning" stage are now going to be put on hold because of this incident in West, Texas? CBS did a great job of tossing out conjecture with no real facts this morning about what started the fire in West....blaming "BOTH" anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate for the explosion. They muddied the water so much, that the average American with no knowledge of the issue is going to demand we stop using all forms of nitrate and ammonium fertilizer, simply because under certain conditions they can be dangerous. How can news organizations keep putting out misinformation that effects the livelihood of people without being held accountable? Don't they know that their actions might make the entire agricultural sector a target for unreasonable fear?

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30 Replies
buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

Some cattle people sued Oprah, unsuccessfully, for shooting off her mouth about something she knew nothing about. It's the same with all media they only care about ratings. BTW the cattle depression of the 90's pretty much ended my cattle career.
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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

Welcome to my world. As a hog farmer in North Carolina, I have had to grow some very thick skin.

Most of that is due to one heroin-addicted Kennedy being sent here to do community service, instead of doing penitentiary time, like anyone else would have had to do. Big names draw big attention, deserved or not.

This is the time to be calm and carry on. The general public does not understand agriculture and will make snap judgments, basing them on mis- and dis-information.

News organizations make no real effort to be accurate anymore, when being sensational makes them so much sexier. Keep this objective on mind when you listen to stories about other industries and issues. As inaccurate as they are about agriculture, imagine how others stories are skewed, too.

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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

The general public might not know agriculture, but their the first ones to bitch when prices go up at the grocery store thinking the extra costs are going directly into farmers pockets. Funny how these people can be friend of foe.
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Shaggy98
Senior Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

NBC reported this facility only contained 54,000# of NH3 in storage. If my calculations are correct, this would only be enough to fertilize approximately 150 acres of corn ground at the 300#/A rate. All of our local Co-op's store well over this amount during the off peak season. I think there might be more to this story that we are not hearing.
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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

They were pretty friendly when they thought farmers were poor, and needed Farm Aid. Now that you guys have a couple nickels to rub together, not so supportive...everyone loves the underdog, right?
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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

An old neighbor EMS director once told me if I ever heard that ___________ Farm Supply was on fire, take the family and run. Their chemical warehouse was probably on a par with some of you guys' BTO stashes of pesticides and soil amendments. It was maybe two air miles away.

This is the one you need to be more concerned about. Regulation of on-farm pesticide storage and transport to the field....
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rswfarms
Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

Yes, 54,000 pounds is only 27 tons. Just think how many pounds is sitting around in Iowa to fertilize 15 Million corn acres this spring. Although fertilizer is/can be a high explosive and a 27 ton bomb is big, the photos show more damage than what a 27 ton bomb would do I believe. I can't believe they only had 27 tons stored in there warehouse. I will use over 200/units per acre and adding it up on just my corn fields is over 125 tons. Yes, 125 tons of nitrogen fertilizer would make a big bang, it is pretty safe however.

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buckfarmer
Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

Can anyone explain the chemical reaction that takes place to make NH3 explosive. Seems like when i worked at a co-op they told us it took extrem heat, whick this place may have had if they had a fire from another source. After the Oklahoma City booming I knew it for ammonium nitrate. Maybe if someone wants to respond it should be in a private message or email, so not to broadcast to the world.
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Pupdaddy
Advisor

Re: Fertilizer plant fire effects

...This is the reason I'm upset. I'm not convinced it was the anhydrous that did the exploding. I think they probably had a bin full of ammonium nitrate...and ammonium nitrate can explode if exposed to the right kind of fire.If Anhydrous in a tank got overheated it should have been blowing the relief valves on the tank....and I'm not sure if any amount of fire could cause it to burn. They said there was inhalation problems with some of the residents...but I have to tell you, if 27 tons of Anhydrous went up in one big cloud...they would have had a bigger problem than what they had. See this link I looked up that describes many other Ammonium Nitrate explosions that have happened over the years....and one of the worst in the US happened right there in Texas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_nitrate_disasters

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