More than 22,000 gallons of fertilizer spill
Ruptured fertilizer tanks at Cooperative Grain and Supply’s Hillsboro crop production facility Saturday night or Sunday morning drained more than 22,000 gallons of liquid fertilizer into a containment area, over its edges, through a parking area, and into a street.
The spill was noticed Sunday morning by a customer who drove past and noticed liquid running along the edge of the street, general manager Jerry Fenske said.
The customer contacted cooperative officials to say something didn’t look right. Employees went to see what was happening.
The company notified Kansas Department of Health and Environment but did not contact local emergency responders or authorities.
Fenske said soil and gravel was being removed from the area where fertilizer flowed to and taken to a special landfill at McPherson, per KDHE instructions.
“They want us to remove the rock, and they will come test the soil,” Fenske said.
He expected two truckloads would be taken to McPherson, but KDHE could order more soil and gravel removed after it returns to the facility next week.
“It’s a matter of ensuring the soil is not contaminated,” Fenske said.
Fenske said the tanks contained a 10-34-0 liquid fertilizer blend. The fertilizer is a transparent green fluid containing a solution of 10% nitrogen and 34% phosphate.
The facility has eight 20,000 tanks plumbed through a manifold and a containment area that holds 110% of a full tank, Fenske said.
How much fertilizer actually flowed out was unknown as of Wednesday, Fenske said.
He speculated the original tank rupture might have been caused by Saturday’s weather and been followed by ruptures of other tanks.
“Saturday night was very windy, and there was a lot of lightning,” Fenske said. “Multiple tanks are damaged.”
An insurance adjuster was on the scene Wednesday and more is expected to be known after damage was assessed, Fenske said.
Cooperative’s bulk plant will need to be rebuilt, Fenske said.