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Ammonium Nitrate Storage

6 August 2020

Following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut reportedly caused by a large amount of Ammonium Nitrate which apparently was stored incorrectly, it is prudent to review the storage requirements for this valuable fertiliser product.

Ammonium Nitrate is an oxidising agent and as such, when subjected to heat will produce its own oxygen supply and will cause other combustible material to burn fiercely or explode in a confined space. It is therefore essential to follow the guidance provided in the links below on its storage and handling and use.

The key points are:

  • If you store more than 25 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser with the oxidising symbol on-farm, NOTIFY the local Fire Service and the HSE
  • If storing more than 150 tonnes of fertiliser with an Ammonium Nitrate content greater than 15.75% NOTIFY your local Fire Service
  • Keep Ammonium Nitrate in stacks away from sources of heat
  • Keep Ammonium Nitrate away from combustible materials such as straw, hay, grain or other combustible feedstuffs
  • Do not store Ammonium Nitrate and Urea in the same building unless measures have been taken to ensure that they don’t mix
  • Do not allow Ammonium Nitrate to come into contact with materials such as, flammable liquids, powdered metals, acids, chlorates, nitrates, zinc, copper and its salts, oils, grease, gas cylinders and other chemicals whose properties are unknown

Follow the guidance in the Five-point Plan below

Farmers and their advisers should be aware of storage requirements for ammonium nitrate (and all oxidising agents – any fertiliser with a yellow diamond marked ‘oxidising agent’ and ‘5.1’ on the bag). Government advice on storage is available online: Secure Your Fertiliser.

The ‘5 point plan’ should always be followed

  1. Wherever possible use a Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS) approved supplier.
  2. Wherever possible keep in a secure area such as a building or sheeted away from public view.
  3. Carry out regular stock checks and report any loss to the Police immediately (call 101).
  4. Avoid leaving fertiliser in a field overnight – never leave fertiliser in the field for a long period of time.
  5. Remember it is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation

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