When it comes to the safe storage of fertilizers containing Ammonium Nitrate, country-specific legal regulations must be applied.
Furthermore, manufacturers and industry associations must provide information not only on the safe storage of Ammonium Nitrate based products, but also guidance on preserving the quality of them, especially highlighting the potential environmental risk that could be caused by contamination of ground and surface water.
Fertilizers are divided into different groups according to the amount of Ammonium Nitrate (AN) in the product. There are also different classifications for dangerous goods in transport (ADR) and requirements for storage and personal protection for employees. Details can be found in the safety data sheets and on www.lat-nitrogen.com. The complex fertilizers offered by LAT Nitrogen are generally classified as not capable of progressive thermal decomposition.
Store fertilizers away from heat and below 32 °C. Provide a venting system and sufficient safety space between the roof and the top of the stack.
Respect the First In – First Out (FIFO) rule and keep up-todate records of fertilizer stock.
Separate bulk AN based fertilizers (e.g. CAN, NPK, …) from Urea in the storage.
For all storage boxes whose bottoms are not 100 % watertight, LAT Nitrogen recommends using zeolite-based moisture absorbers (e.g. Terraperl or Lithosoil 300) as bedding. Spreading 1 – 2 kg of this material per m² helps keep bags dry.
Be sure to prevent any contact with water (from the ground or water-permeable flooring, leaky roofs, open doors and skylights), if necessary use pallets.
It is highly recommended to store fertilizers in buildings, if this is not possible, please store them under a shed roof, covered from direct sunlight. Make sure the fertilizers are also protected from sidewise insolation or from insolation through windows.
In case of storage outdoors, it is recommended never to expose bagged fertilizers to direct sunlight, store in a shady and well-ventilated place.
If there is no alternative, use a light-colored plastic covering to protect the bags. The plastic covering should not bear directly on the bags, so please place pallets between the bags and the plastic covering.
Cover bulk storage with an incombustible plastic covering or tarpaulin and avoid contamination with other materials.
Avoid the risk of spillage by not overloading. Keep aisles and pathways clean and cleared. If spillage occurs, clean up immediately. Do not drive across spilled product.
It is recommended to store big bags always overlapping in pyramid form with a maximum of two layers. There has to be an additional single layer row at the front side. Remove the big bags from the top to the bottom. During the full process of loading or unloading keep the pyramid form of the stack at all time.
When handling fertilizers, take care not to damage the goods. In case of damage, do not approach the big bags from the direction of the possible downfall, as they may get unstable and fall over, crushing people standing next to it.
Allow for a safety distance to walking areas.
Do not allow pallets or big bags to tilt or be stacked on an incline.
Pallets should be stacked directly on each other to a maximum of two layers, with the front line only in one layer (similar principle to big bag storage).
Fertilizers stored in steep heaps should be removed from top to bottom to minimize the risk of large amounts falling down suddenly. When working at heaps always pay attention to this risk.
Wherever possible, fertilizer should be stored at least 10 meters from a water course or field drain and far away (e.g. 50 metres) from a borehole, well, etc. to avoid contamination of groundwater and surface water.
Fertilizers containing nitrate are particularly toxic for ruminants.
Never smoke, consume food or beverages where fertilizers are stored.
Fertilizers must be stored separately from:
Vehicles should not be parked in the storage areas unless being loaded or unloaded. They have to be free from oil or fuel leaks.
Always use lifting forks with rounded edges in order to avoid damage to the lifting straps of the big bags. Put big bags or pallets always on flat ground and avoid friction of big bags with the ground during transport. Be careful when filling up the fertilizer dispenser. When handling fertilizers, do not allow anyone to stand in the area of lifting/transportation or beneath a raised big bag. When handling fertilizers, take care not to damage the goods and avoid swinging of the big bag to ensure the overall stability of the machine. Wearing a high visibility vest can reduce the risk of being hit by any machine or vehicle. Big bags should be cut open at the bottom with a long-handled knife. Always stand on the side of the big bag to avoid risk of being crushed. Empty big bags are not reusable and have to be returned to an approved recycling contractor. The recycling logos on such big bags indicate that LAT Nitrogen contributes to environmental protection.
Chemical reaction can lead to decomposition of fertilizers with toxic fumes (nitrogen oxide, ammonia) in case of external heat (hotspot, fire…), in particular with fertilizers containing nitrogen.
Fertilizers with AN (>28% nitrogen) when stored correctly are safe, however they can detonate if several extreme conditions are present simultaneously like:
For further details read health and safety information provided in the product safety datasheet (www.lat-nitrogen.com).
Avoid dust formation and contact with skin, eyes and clothing. Check and clean the PPE (personal protective equipment) regularly to keep up its preventive condition.
Post an up-to-date map of storage facilities and an emergency evacuation plan in an easily accessible place and inform staff of emergency procedures.
In the event of fire (of combustible material) or emission of fumes (from fertilizers):
1. Call fire brigade 112 (European emergency number): specify the location and the type of fertilizers
2. Do not inhale the fumes
3. Evacuate the area
4. Evacuate other people without endangering yourself
5. Secure the installation (e.g. disconnect the power)
For firefighting use large amounts of water, do not use chemical extinguishers, foam, steam or sand on fertilizers based on AN, because they are decomposing.
The following points are specific for fertilizers containing at least 16 % of nitrogen in relation to AN (i.e. at least 8 % of nitric nitrogen & 8 % of ammoniacal nitrogen)
Protect fertilizer storage facilities from unauthorized access to minimize the risk of theft (locked premises) and maintain an up-to-date inventory to be able to determine quickly whether theft has occurred.
Do not leave or store big bags with fertilizers on the roadside, in the field or other areas available to public. Report immediately any stock discrepancy or loss to the police. You also need to contact the relevant national contact point for fertilizer theft.
Neither give free nor sell product except to professional user. Keep all accompanying documents (delivery notes, invoice, batch traceability).