Largest Fertilizer Plant in America is Just Miles from Tulsa
By Elizabeth Stidham
The largest liquid fertilizer plant in North America is here in Green Country. CF Industries in Verdigris produces 3,200 tons of ammonia every day, converting it to urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer.People in Verdigris have lived with the 650-acre plant more than 30 years. It's a major employer in the area and part of the community. After the disaster in West, Texas, some residents are more aware of their neighbor.Verdigris business owner Jeff Floyd said, other than seeing the employees who come in for lunch, he doesn't normally give CF Industries much thoughtYou don't really think about it until something major happens," said Floyd. "If I see the fire department headed that way, I'm getting in my car and leaving."Yolanda Boren has lived a mile from the plant for 25 years. About ten years ago, the plant delivered a disaster kit to her and others in town."It was a big box with plastic wrap to cover all your windows," said Boren. "It said if something happens, cover all your windows up."The plant hasn't had a major incident since 1979 when there was a rail car accident. Tulsa Fire Department Hazmat Coordinator, Paul Ator, says if there was an accident, it could be big."That would be a very major incident if we had a problem at that facility," said Ator. "If it was not handled right, similar circumstances could occur (to West, Texas)."Hazmat is are aware of the chemicals at the plant, how much, and where they are to be prepared."I think anytime you live around something like that, you should have an escape plan," said Floyd.CF Industries Plant Manager, Bill Brown, said the Verdigris plant has a five-star safety rating by OSHA, the highest available.The Oklahoma Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Quality regulate fertilizer manufacturers, but only if there is a spill or emission. They don't inspect the plants for safety.
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