Ban Explosive Nitrogen Fertilizer

Target: Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

Goal: Ban ammonium nitrate, an explosive material, for use in its pure form as fertilizer

Recently, a spontaneous explosion at a fertilizer plant in West Texas killed 14 people, including several emergency workers, and injured more than 100 more. While the exact cause of the explosion has yet to be confirmed, it is likely that improperly stored ammonium nitrate led to the blast. Often used as an inexpensive fertilizer, ammonium nitrate is volatile enough that it can also be used to make homemade bombs. However, the United States still allows its sale and use as a fertilizer. Urge the Department of Agriculture to ban unmixed ammonium nitrate.

The West Fertilizer Co. where the explosion occurred had failed to file proper documents about the hazardous materials stored at its facility. But earlier this year, the company did report that it was storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate. When combined with other materials, this fertilizer can become extremely explosive. In the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel oil to make bombs. Ammonium nitrate in its pure form is dangerous enough that many countries, like Germany and Ireland, have banned the substance for use as fertilizer unless it is mixed with other materials.

Fourteen people have already died likely as a result of this chemical. It’s time that the USDA take the proper precautions and ban its use in pure form.


Dear Thomas J. Vilsack,

An explosion on a West Texas fertilizer plant has left 14 dead and more than a hundred injured. The tragedy at West Fertilizer Co. is a stark reminder of the dangerous effects that nitrogen fertilizer can have — not just on the environment, but on the individuals who have to work with these chemicals.

Although the exact cause of the explosion has not been pinpointed, West Fertilizer Co. reported that it had been storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate at its facility. Ammonium nitrate has been known to explode, perhaps most famously when it was used alongside fuel oil to make the bombs used in the 1995 Oklahoma City tragedy.

Countries like Germany and Ireland have already banned this substance in its pure form due to its explosive nature. This tragedy demonstrated that the United States must do the same. Nitrogen fertilizers destroy the environment and put workers in danger. I urge you to take action and prevent future catastrophes by banning pure ammonium nitrate for use as fertilizer.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: David DeHetre via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Janis Booth says:

    It seems incredible to me that that the terrible bombing in Boston is made so much of, truly terrible as that was for the poor injured and dead. Yet the corporate terrorism which caused this is not classified in the same way nor the NRA for public terrorism, when so many people die daily due to utterly ridiculous gun laws.

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