Home > Practice Areas > Industrial Injury > Fast Facts: The Fertilizer Industry

Most of us probably don’t think about the fertilizer industry too often in our daily lives. But, this industry affects all of us on a daily basis through the food we eat.

The West Fertilizer Company explosion has brought this industry front and center.

Here are some interesting facts about the fertilizer industry in general:

  • Without manufactured fertilizer, the food industry would not be able to keep up with constantly growing demands for food because of a growing world population. Fertilizers allow soil to remain fertile for longer periods of time than would traditionally be possible.
  • The fertilizer industry in this country reported $10 billion in revenues in 2011. $4.5 million worth of fertilizer was exported overseas, and half of the synthetic fertilizer we use is imported.
  • The fracking boom has created a domestic boom in the fertilizer industry as well. Fracking means we have more natural gas available, therefore fertilizer can be easily made. (Fertilizer is synthesized from nitrogen and natural gas). Read an interesting article on the connection between fracking and agriculture here.
  • There are 44 fertilizer production plants in the United States.

Facts about Ammonium Nitrate:

  • After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 in which ammonium nitrate was used, federal officials regulate who buys ammonium nitrate, but not who stores it.
  • Ammonium nitrate is explosive, however it is the cheapest and best source of nitrogen available. It is inexpensive as well as an effective source of fertilizer.
  • Ammonium nitrate is convenient for many reasons, however it has serious environmental impacts. Excess of the compound seeps into our bodies of water and kill sea life, and it emits nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon. In addition, it destroys organic material in the soil. These are serious side effects that will have long-term repercussions if we do not reduce our reliance on the compound.

Facts about the West Fertilizer Company Plant:

  • The fertilizer facility in West, Texas was not a production plant. It was a retail facility that stored ammonium nitrate and other chemicals, and then custom-mixed them for local farmers. This is a common practice in farming communities.
  • The West Fertilizer Company housed two 12,000 gallon tanks containing anhydrous ammonia.
  • The West Fertilizer Company has been in business since 1962.

The Attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP Can Help

The events in West, Texas are a true tragedy. Innocent workers, residents, and responders have lost their lives, tearing the small Texas town apart. We want to help in any way we can. Our attorneys have the compassion to help you through this difficult time, and the experience to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.