Valley experts talk fertilizer safety

April 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The effects of the massive blast which leveled a fertilizer plant in West, Texas can be felt across the country. It is a cautionary tale for the agriculture rich Central Valley, where fertilizer is both produced and shipped out by several companies.

Fresno County Environmental Health Director David Pomaville said, "There are facilities here in the county that handle fertilizer type materials, mainly in re-packaging and distribution of those materials."

Not only are facilities inspected but safety measures must also be in place whenever potentially hazardous chemicals are being transported.

Fresno City Fire Chief Rob Brown explained, "We have rail yards throughout the area. We have all kinds of storage facilities with all kinds of chemicals. More than ammonium nitrate it's just one of these things and that's why it's so heavily regulated."

Ammonium nitrate is one of the most common fertilizers used on Valley farms as well as yards. You may have some in your garage. Fertilizer comes in different forms - granule and liquid.

Chief Brown said, "Ammonium nitrate itself is really not as hazardous on a frequent standpoint as one might think but when certain things occur and if exposed to fire and the right conditions the result is what we saw in Texas."

A large fertilizer producer in Western Fresno County called Simplot issued this statement saying, "There is nothing more important to the J. R. Simplot company than the safety of our employees and communities. This is why we are so diligent in everything we do every day to ensure the safety of our operations."

No need to worry if you have unused fertilizer in your garage. Just check the directions on the bag or bottle to make sure you are storing it properly.


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