Local experts weigh in on West Fertilizer explosions - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Local experts weigh in on West Fertilizer explosions

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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

Fertilizing experts say an accidental explosion may be the cause of the devastation at the West Fertilizer Plant.

"That particular plant is one of the few ammonium nitrate plants left in Texas that actually use the 34-0-0," said Joe Clark, Operating Manager, Clark's Feed and Fertilizer.

Local experts believe Ammonium Nitrate may have played role in the damage because its highly explosive.

"It's a bin or a larger hopper of the nitrate and when it went off that's when the devastations occurred and it's sad," said Clark.

County Extension Agent Cary Sims says fertilizer plants require a lot of natural gas to make the Nitrogen component of fertilizer.

"They'll use 35 to 40 thousand cubic feet of natural gas to make one ton of a Hydrogenous Ammonia it takes a lot of natural gas," said Sims.

 The Nitrogen component is the first number of the three numbers you'll see on a bag of fertilizer.

 Experts says when the Ammonium Nitrate is blended it loses its explosiveness.

 "It could happen and its truly sad but for everything to fall in place for that to happen is very rare," said Clark.

Fertilizer industry officials say most local suppliers don't sell Ammonium Nitrate because of the chemical's explosive nature.

 Officials say another possibility for the explosions may have been the Anhydrous Ammonia kept on site.
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