Most of the fertilizer plants in our area are located a distance away from residential communities. More importantly, the fertilizer produced in eastern Idaho is phosphate based and is far less explosive than what was being produced in Texas.
Of the 44 fertilizer plants in this country, 30 of them are nitrogen based. This process combines atmospheric nitrogen with natural gas to form ammonium nitrate. If used properly, the amount of fertilizer Timothy McVeigh used in his terrorist attack in Oklahoma City would have helped a farmer grow 4.25 acres of crops.
This form of synthetic fertilizer is gaining more market share each year. There are two main reasons for this. The price of natural gas has gone down and so it is more affordable to produce. Also, we depend on it.
A Yale survey estimates that chemical fertilizer helps feed more than 3 billion people annually. There are a few scientists who are advocating reducing our dependency on synthetics because of the risks involved in producing it.
Simplot offered this comment in response to the tragedy in Texas.
“Our hearts go out to the people of West, Texas this morning as they struggle to recover from last night’s tragic incident.
There is nothing more important to the J. R. Simplot Company than the safety of our employees and communities. This is why we are so diligent in everything we do every day to ensure the safety of our operations. Like the rest of the public, we are waiting for this investigation to be complete so that we understand the facts related to this incident.”