Scotts Fertilizer Officials Say Their Chemicals Are Safer

Rachel Markin has a clear view of the Scotts Miracle Gro Plant from her front porch. Markin said she has seen fires at the plant.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
Rachel Markin has a clear view of the Scotts Miracle Gro Plant from her front porch. Markin said she has seen fires at the plant.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

Neighbors of the huge Scotts fertilizer plant in Marysville likely paid close attention to reports of the deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion.

Scotts said the chemicals it uses are safer than those used in Texas. But as WOSUreports, some Scotts neighbors still are uneasy.

Rachel Markin has had a clear view of the Scotts plant from her front porch for 10 years. Markin said she tries not to worry too much about a disaster like the one in West, Texas.

“We have seen fires. There’s been a couple of times we’ve heard booms and stuff over here. So I do get concerned about that part of it.”

Mary Christian lives around the corner from Markin. Christian says she’s never heard a “boom” like her neighbor.

“I have some issues, not grave concerns over it. Not enough to make me think I shouldn’t live here,” Christian said.

Scotts’ environmental safety and security vice president Bill Lechner said their operation differs from the Texas fertilizer plant. Lechner said Scotts does not use the highly-volatile ammonium nitrate. What it uses, Lechner said, is urea- and phosphate-based.

“Much lower risk. We actually formulated out, call it the ‘reactive’ chemicals from our products quite a while ago,” Lechner said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture keeps a close watch over what chemicals Ohio companies use. A department official said most fertilizer companies quit using ammonia nitrate following the Oklahoma City bombing. The state ag department also confirmed Scotts’ formulas are not as dangerous as those thought to be used at the Texas plant that exploded.

In addition to the less “reactive” chemicals, Lechner says Scotts employees receive regular training to prepare for hazardous events.

“Associated are trained, they go offsite actually and do training so they are able to respond to any kind of emergency,” he said.

Scotts also trains with the Marysville Fire Department on a regular basis.

There have been fires at the Scotts plant, and a train car carrying chemicals to the plant toppled over one time. But Marysville Fire Chief Jay Riley said all incidents have been quickly contained because of on-going drills.

“We are so familiar with their plant because we’re in there quite a bit that we’re able to work with the Scotts company to keep their incidents small,” Riley said.

And Riley added Scotts does not store large amounts of chemicals.

“They keep low quantities in stock, and they only keep what they need.”

The Texas plant that exploded has been fined previously by federal regulators for various safety violations.

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