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Pueblo fertilizer plant manager discusses explosion danger

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 19 2013 12:32:03 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 19 2013 12:33:28 AM CDT

A fertilizer plant near County High School in Pueblo doesn't pose the kind of explosion risk seen in Texas.

PUEBLO, Colo. -

A fertilizer plant near County High School in Pueblo doesn't pose the kind of explosion risk seen in Texas.

Jeff Kolb runs American Fertilizer CO. It's been right next to the high school for 40 years.

"We have not had any issues or any type of concerns," said Kolb.

The company mixes fertilizer on site for customers as a far away as Colorado Springs. Mixing the wrong chemicals together can be hazardous, but Kolb said everyone who handles fertilizer has to go through rigorous training. Kolb said just to take the test to apply for a license you have to have a two-year apprenticeship with a fertilizer company.

There's also a lot of oversight.

"The Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA are in here several times every year going through our facility and checking on materials being stored in the proper place," said Kolb.

American Fertilizer doesn't store the amount of anhydrous ammonia that fueled the explosion in West. Though the fertilizer is common, in southern Colorado it's not centrally located but delivered and stored at farms that buy the gas.

"Our community chose to go more with the liquid fertilizers and the dry fertilizers versus the anhydrous," said Kolb.

Kolb said the key to a safe storage room is knowledge of the chemicals - what mixes and what doesn't.

"If there is going to be an electrical fire or whatever the best thing you can do is when you handle these type of products is just be trained on them and know how to store them and the proper use of them," said Kolb.

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