Local experts weigh in on West Fertilizer explosions

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Fertilizing experts say an accidentalexplosion may be the cause of the devastation at the West Fertilizer Plant.

"That particular plant is one ofthe 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 Nitratemay have played role in the damage because its highly explosive.

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

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

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

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

Experts says when the Ammonium Nitrate isblended it loses its explosiveness.

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

Fertilizer industry officials say mostlocal suppliers don't sell Ammonium Nitrate because of the chemical's explosivenature.

Officials say another possibility for theexplosions may have been the Anhydrous Ammonia kept on site.
Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.