Friday, May 03, 2013

Pure form of chemical that caused West Fertilizer explosion is banned in some countries

Several countries have banned pure ammonium nitrate because it is so explosive. The chemical is being blamed for the West Fertilizer explosion that killed 15 people, injured 200, destroyed more than 100 homes, and has caused more than $100 million in property losses. (Photo by 

The worst part is that the explosion didn't need to happen, Tim Murphy writes for Mother Jones. "The U.S. Department of Defense has pressured manufacturers overseas to neutralize their own products, warning that anything less constitutes a threat to American personnel," Murphy writes. "But in the United States, with the backing of the chemical industry, explosive ammonium nitrate has held onto a small but powerful share of the market as the fertilizer of choice for citrus growers."

Lawmakers have had plenty of chances to ban the substance, most notably after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh used it, and after 9/11, when "the Department of Homeland Security began offering incentives to companies that sought to neutralize the explosive properties of fertilizer," Murphy writes.

The Fertilizer Institute, "the nation's leading lobbying organization of the chemical and agricultural industries, successfully squashed all regulatory efforts," after Oklahoma City, Murphy writes. Some companies have started to come around since 9/11, but the progress has been slow. (Read more)

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