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Barge company fined for spilling fertilizer

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World Fertilizer,

The Washington State Department of Ecology has announced that Tidewater Barge Lines Inc. has been fined for spilling fertilizer into the Snake and Columbia rivers.

Specifically, the company was fined US$18 000 for spilling 40 000 gal. of liquid urea ammonium nitrate. The Department’s investigation revealed that two of the company’s steel tank barges were not properly maintained, causing the fertilizer to spill during three separate incidents in April last year. The company has 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal it to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

The first spill occurred between 11 and 21 April during transfer and storing operations at the Tidewater Snake River Terminal in Pasco. It is determined that 16 639 gal. of urea ammonium nitrate were released by Barge no. 78 due to corrosion of the storage tank.

The second spill occurred between 20 and 24 April during a transfer operation as the barge transited and moored on Columbia River near Vancouver. It is determined that 22 104 gal. of urea ammonium nitrate were released by Barge No. 74 due to corrosion of the storage tank.

The third and final spill was reported on 28 April, and occurred in the preceding days during transportation operations along the Columbia River near Vancouver. It is determined that 950 gal. of urea ammonium nitrate were released by Barge No. 74 due to physical damage on the tank’s side shell.

Rich Doenges, Ecology’s water quality section manager, said: “These spills were preventable through proper maintenance of the barges.

“While it dispersed rapidly in the Columbia and Snake rivers, urea ammonium nitrate fertilizer can stimulate plant and algae growth in water, which could impact fish and wildlife.”

In addition to the fine, the company must take immediate action in order to prevent any future urea ammonium nitrate releases. It must also submit to Ecology a yearly comprehensive corrosion management plan for its barges. Detailed cleaning and inspection processes will help to ensure the integrity of the steel plates and welds in the vessels’ tanks.

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