MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

April 27, 2013

Anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate at plant

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Of the 180 facilities in Arkansas that are listed as storing fertilizer, just one has both anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate, according to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

The two compounds were stored at a Texas fertilizer plant where a deadly explosion occurred April 17. The cause of the blast remains undetermined and under investigation.

In Arkansas, El Dorado Chemical Co. in El Dorado uses anhydrous ammonia to produce ammonium nitrate and other products, plant manager Greg Withrow told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“It’s the raw material for this facility,” Withrow said, adding that the plant stores up to 10,000 tons of anhydrous ammonia at any given time.

“We manage our plant safely,” Withrow said. “There are risks in everything we do every day, but the chemical industry itself has one of the lowest incident rates of any industry.”

Both anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate are commonly used as fertilizers, with ammonium nitrate being the more volatile. It was a component of the bomb used by Timothy McVeigh to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

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