North Dakota Official: Anhydrous Ammonia Regulations 'Burdensome'

September 14, 2015 05:00 AM
anhydrous ammonia

 North Dakota's agriculture commissioner says an Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy change meant to increase safety at anhydrous ammonia facilities would impose huge costs and unwieldy regulations on such plants.

Commissioner Doug Goehring told the Bismarck Tribune that the change could bury anhydrous vendors in paperwork by imposing manufacturing standards on retail facilities. The policy change is a response to a deadly ammonium nitrate explosion at a Texas fertilizer company in 2013.

"I would liken it to a gas station having the same regulatory compliance as an oil refinery," Goehring said. "It's onerous, it's burdensome and it's costly."

Darrell Scheresky, agronomy manager at Enerbase in Washburn, said the current binder of safety procedures for a retail facility is about five inches thick. He says that would double under the new standards.

"We don't take this (safety) lightly," Scheresky said. "We want efficiency and safety to stay in place."

Scheresky and other industry representatives said smaller retail operations unable to hire the extra staff needed to fulfill the additional requirements could be forced to close. That could affect one-third of the state's facilities, officials estimate, as the cost to comply could run $18,000 to $30,000 per facility.

"That's significant for a business to withstand," Goehring said.

Doyle Johannes, president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, said he already drives far to buy anhydrous ammonia. Closed facilities would change how he operates his farm, he said, and the added compliance cost would be passed to producers.

Terry Weckerly of the North Dakota Grain Growers said to raise costs to the farmer while crop prices are down shows "really poor timing."

The OSHA policy change is effective immediately. All anhydrous ammonia facilities must be in compliance by Jan. 21.

Goehring said he sent a letter to OSHA detailing the state's concerns and requesting it nullify the new rule.

Back to news



Spell Check

Cody Lightwine
Geneva, NE
9/16/2015 07:53 AM

  Don't forget about those retailers who use converters to make liquid starter fertilizer. Those who convert for retail have historically been exempted also. Now they will drug into the process safety plan. This will result in increased prices to the farmer.

Gary Odom
Nocona, TX
9/14/2015 09:01 AM

  Ten years ago, we had 5 small NH3 dealers within 30 miles of my North Central Texas farm. The last one folded last Spring due to already onerous regs. Ammonium nitrate is also no longer available due to the regulatory response to the explosion in Central Texas. That leaves us with urea as our nitrogen source and we just have to 'deal with' the inherent limitations on its application. I wish I could end this comment with some suggestion for a reasonable solution but I believe ever more regulatory intervention is inevitable.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer