Farmer’s Co-op is still searching for answers a week after a group of storage tanks failed, releasing hundreds of thousands of gallons of liquid fertilizer.
General Manager Bart Moseman said Monday the company is still in the process of cleaning up what it can of the spill before it can thoroughly investigate what caused nine storage tanks to collapse last Wednesday. The accident occurred around 8:30 a.m. that day, with seven of the tanks releasing ammonium polyphosphate into the environment. The final two contained water.
Hemingford Volunteer Fire Chief Shad Bryner told KNEB that as much as 210,000 gallons of fertilizer was dumped onto the ground when the collapse occurred. The fertilizer flowed into storm drains and into a ditch along Highway 2, he reported.
Moseman, however, declined to comment on how much fertilizer was released.
“We’ve reclaimed quite a bit of it, so I’m not sure what our total loss will be,” he said.
The reclaimed fertilizer is being stored separately in an empty tank at Westco, though Moseman said it is unclear if the product will be usable after the accident. Farmer’s Co-op is working with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to mitigate any impacts the sudden spill might create.
After the spill occurred, Farmer’s Co-op staff began work immediately to contain the fertilizer and reclaim as much of the liquid as possible. The Hemingford Fire Department and Police, along with the Box Butte County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol also responded, KNEB reported.
Moseman is particularly grateful to fellow businesses Westco, Simplot and Panhandle Co-op who provided tankers and trucks to reclaim the fertilizer.