Published On: Thu, May 16th, 2013

Randolph residents can feel safe, hazardous fertilizers not an issue

RANDOLPH — The Randolph City Office and the Randolph Fire Department have received letters from Central Valley Ag (CVA) concerning hazardous materials.

The recent letter was sent in the aftermath of the massive fertilizer explosion that occurred at a facility in Texas.

People in communities all across the country have been asking “can this happen in our town?”

The devastating explosion in Texas was likely fueled by the onsite storage of ammonium nitrate fertilizer according to the CVA letter.

The Randolph CVA and Randolph Farm Supply do not handle ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

“Ammonium nitrate has not been on the premises during the last 15 years that I have been here,” CVA Manager Warren Frerichs said.

Randolph Farm Supply does not handle the kind of materials that were involved in the explosion in West, Texas, according to Manager Brad Bargstadt

“We do not handle ammonium nitrate or anhydrous ammonia,” Bargstadt said.

CVA does not store or sell ammonium nitrate fertilizer at any of their locations in the northern part of the state according to Brad Bousquet, CVA Vice-president of Safety & Compliance in Oakland.

“We send our prayers to the community of West, Texas,” Bousquet said. “This very unfortunate situation has increased our awareness for the need to better communicate our safety efforts to the communities we serve.”

Bousquet encourages local fire departments to tour CVA facilities on an annual basis to ensure they are aware of the hazards they may face in the event of a fire or other emergency situations.

“While we don’t handle ammonium nitrate we do handle various other hazardous materials,” Bousquet said. “CVA is dedicated to safety and compliance with all regulatory agencies.”

CVA routinely conducts safety training and audits at their facilities to ensure the safety of their employees and the communities.

What was considered a normally safe product turned parts of the small Texas town into rubble a few weeks ago.

The facility produced anhydrous ammonia, a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen that farmers inject into the soil as a crop nutrient. According to news reports the facility also stored up to 270 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Ammonium nitrate is a grassland fertilizer that was the main ingredient in a homegrown terrorist’s bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

It was also involved in a 1994 blast at a Terra Industries fertilizer plant south of Sioux City, Iowa, that killed four maintenance workers, and injured close to 20 other workers.

The product has also been linked to roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

Officials are still perplexed about what combination of events could have turned a normally safe fertilizer into a deadly explosion that registered a magnitude 2.1 on the earthquake scale.