Update/Cincinnati Enquirer: fertilizer spill was substantially bigger than first thought

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This is an update from an earlier story that appeared here. The thread is posted at the bottom

Cincinnati Enquirer: fertilizer spill was substantially bigger than first thought

quote from story:

"Local and regional rescue workers and environmental officials said Thursday they are still investigating the tank rupture. No official cause has been determined. The company said Thursday as much as 990,000 gallons of the fertilizer was in the tank when it failed, Southside spokeswoman Jody Mangeot said. About 108,000 gallons were eventually recovered, but 882,000 gallons of the solution were lost. Originally, officials estimated 360,000 to 379,500 gallons of the nitrogen solution had spilled."

Link to story:


And here's the link to the original thread:


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), January 14, 2000


Thanks for the info! It's so typical to see industries trying to underreport their Y2K problems. I wouldn't be surprised if it's even worse than this.

-- (larryJJ@operandus.org), January 14, 2000.

this one's DEFINITELY way OT. and he still doesn't label it as such.

Delete please.

oh...and --(larryJJ) and --(hal@operandus.org) are a trolls.

well, either that, or Carl has discovered how to use sock puppets.

-- plonk! (realaddress@hotmail.com), January 14, 2000.

Well, someone's fields may not be fertilized in a timely fashion this spring. There go the sweet mutant dwarf tomatoes.

-- Harbor Guy (HarborGuy@OnThe.Waterfront), January 14, 2000.

Read the link to the earlier post. This is liquid nitrogen. It comes in 28%, 30% or 32% (nitrogen) liquid solutions. 30% means that there are 30 lbs. of actual N per 100 lbs. of liquid. Farmers apply it by the acre, 100-300 lbs/acre often at or within weeks of planting time, and it is one of the key fertilizers for field corn (not so much for sweet corn, BTW). It is a thinkish, milky looking and not-terribly pungent liquid. Doubt strongly it is explosive. It sure will zap any plants it touches in this strength. What caused the breach? What kind of tank was it? Probably steel lined with plastic or rubber. This stuff is corrosive to unprotected metal. Slippery as heck, too! A pressure surge? These tanks are not pressurized at all. Yes, as you may have gathered, I know what soil feels like between my fingers.

Now, if we were talking about anhydrous ammonia, we're talking about a gas under pressure, and something that is and smells close to chlorine. Can you spell "mustard gas"? Anhydrous is another common source of N for field corn. Yet another is urea (the dry, pelletized formulation). Anhydrous is always injected or mied into the soil less it volatize imediately. Anhydrous is also used a lot, I believe, in plastic production.

Personally, I would be even more likely to fear an anhydrous leak than even natural gas. Gotta hold my breath for however long it takes until I get at least cross-wind from the source, you see.

-- Redeye in Ohio (cannot@work.com), January 14, 2000.


Farmers apply it by the acre, 100-300 lbs/acre often at or within weeks of planting time, and it is one of the key fertilizers for field corn (not so much for sweet corn, BTW).

Do you think this spill means a few million acres won't get fertalized this year or can the rest of the industry pick up the slack? Any idea?


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), January 14, 2000.

Quote from the updated story (conveniently left out by "Carl's Disaster News"):

"The company also said the cause may have been a structure failure in the tank's welding."


no Y2K data problems there.

-- plonk! (realaddress@hotmail.com), January 14, 2000.

Now you have another reason why I've been watching the railroad (and gas pipeline and harbor) reports with interest. As one grain elevator operator here in Ohio put it, "the railroads have sure F&^ed up harvest". that was last October. As in millions of bushels of grain piled outside waiting for shipment. As in contributing to farm gate prices grain among the lowest in better than 20 years.

Will a lot of acres go unfertilized? Likely not. Will the price inch up locally for this reason alone? Perhaps. Will those of you not directly in agriculture notice it? Not likely. And when you do, it will be far too late -- agriculture will be "verically integrated" to the max. Huge hog and chicken farms, internatonal corporations and the like. And too many millions of farmers gotten old and tired and left the business, and too, too many acres of productive farms growing houses.

-- Redeye in Ohio (cannot@work.com), January 14, 2000.

So wouldn't embeddeds detect a risk prior to rupture? Anyone know the level of tech in this kind of facility?

-- Hokie (Hokie_@hotmail.com), January 14, 2000.

Redeye, I heard one guy interviewed on the radio a month back who said he had to pay $10,000 storage every month for a 400,000 (bushel? ton???don't remember unit)BECAUSE he bought the grain, but hadn't been able to get a train there to pick it up, so it's rotting in the rain.

-- Hokie (Hokie_@hotmail.com), January 14, 2000.

And from my farmer relatives, if the price of bread, cereal and other refined foods went up about 5-10%, it would go a long way to helping the farmer balance his books and keep up production. Most people think the prices have to skyrocket, but I don't believe this is so.

There is talk in Canada about subsidizing the consumer (don't know the practicalities of that) so that all the subsidies going to farmers year after year and all the govt overhead that entails, can be cut out. Seems that we could all absorb a little more cost in our food if the gov. would stop subsidizing. If I am wrong on this please let me know.

-- Laurane (familyties@rttinc.com), January 14, 2000.

The "fertilizer" didn't originate in Washinton DC did it?

-- Squid (ItsDArk@down.here), January 14, 2000.

Redeye -- I grew up in the country south of Cleveland and went to college close to Columbus. You growing corn and beans? I'll tell you city peole have no idea of what is going on in production AG. There won't be any AG if people don't start to wise up to reality.


-- Todd Detzel (detzel@jps.net), January 14, 2000.


FWIW, in an earlier thread on this topic:


I mentioned:

"Some of the details regarding the contents of the tank seem odd. Liquid nitrogen is quite cold, like -321 F, or -196 C, or 77 K if you prefer. If liquid nitrogen were mixed with water in the tank, that water would quickly freeze.

Also, while many fertilizers include nitrogen, nitrogen itself is not a fertilizer. About 80% of the air that we breath is nitrogen.

Perhaps the tank contained some compound of nitrogen dissolved in water, but I don't believe you can attain a 35 per cent solution of N2 in liquid H2O at any temperature."


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), January 14, 2000.

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