Local CF Industries plant part of large NA fertilizer operation

Brad Gordon, superintendent of the CF Industries Huntington Ammonia Terminal, poses with the facility’s sign off Hosler Road outside Huntington on Tuesday, March 9. The terminal is a stop in distributing anhydrous ammonia.
Brad Gordon, superintendent of the CF Industries Huntington Ammonia Terminal, poses with the facility’s sign off Hosler Road outside Huntington on Tuesday, March 9. The terminal is a stop in distributing anhydrous ammonia. Photo by Matt Murphy.

Originally published March 18, 2010.

A 2,000-mile-long pipeline begins in Louisiana and travels north to supply valuable anhydrous ammonia for agricultural use in the Midwest.

The line travels parallel with the Mississippi Valley, then through southern Illinois and central Indiana, and ends in ... Huntington?

Outside the city along U.S.-24, several huge storage tanks line the south side of the roadway. One tank, the furthest east of all, is the final destination for the ammonia line, and is the site of CF Industries' Huntington Ammonia Terminal.

Built in 1972, the Huntington Terminal is one of 19 ammonia terminals owned by CF Industries, most of which are concentrated in the Midwest. The facility at Huntington serves agricultural entities in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan, providing farms with essential liquid ammonia fertilizer, which aids in the production of crops, especially corn.

"CF Industries is one of North America's largest manufacturers and distributors of fertilizer," says Brad Gordon, superintendent of the Huntington Terminal.
The local facility processes about 55,000 tons of ammonia annually, and is able to fill up to 140 tractor trailers per day, with each truck hauling 20-ton loads of the nutrient.

Trucks transport the fertilizer to a co-op, where the ammonia is stored into larger bullet tanks (which resemble their namesake), and then into smaller vessels called nurse tanks, which are delivered to farmers.
Anhydrous ammonia is a nitrogen-based compound that, when applied into the soil, replenishes the lost nutrient. Nitrogen is a key fertilizer for corn, and when supplemented, allows the plant to grow larger, thereby increasing yields.

The problem with anhydrous ammonia, however, is the compound's flammability and the adverse health effects ammonia can cause in its gas form.

CF Industries prides itself on safety, with the Huntington facility recently receiving an award for its 13,900th day without a lost-time incident.

"We take great pride in that fact," Gordon says. "But we also realize not to rest on our laurels."

The Huntington Terminal takes great care when it comes to the safety and security of not just its 11 employees, but also the facility's neighbors and the community as a whole.

CF Industries sends its employees through the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Program (HAZWOPER). The training enables employees to understand the hazardous chemicals he or she is working with, and prepares them for the action necessary in the event of a release.

The HAZWOPER training is in addition to CF's "Star" status in OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program, which is OSHA's indication of the company's excellence in safety and employee health management. The designation is in addition to the Huntington Terminal's numerous other safety awards from past years.

"We have always taken safety to the highest level," says Gordon.

Local residents needn't be worried about their safety either, he says, as Huntington County emergency personnel are also trained to deal with an ammonia leak and are prepared to warn residents through a variety of methods, including local media, similar to any other natural or man-made disaster.

"We have a great working relationship with Roanoke, Markle and Huntington fire departments," Gordon says.
Due to CF Industries's location, the Roanoke Volunteer Fire Department and the Markle Volunteer Department are the terminal's primary emergency responders, while Huntington serves as a backup.

In past years, Gordon says that the Huntington facility has sent a number of members from all three fire departments to a training facility in Louisiana where firefighters were trained to handle an ammonia leak, using the actual substance for practice. And, every five years, the Huntington Terminal hosts an exercise with first responders in Huntington County to simulate a leak.

"They have a good sense of what we have here," Gordon says.

Gordon is also a member of the Local Emergency Planning Commission, which consists of industry leaders and government officials in Huntington County. The commission works together to coordinate drills and emergency plans in the event of a disaster.

As for community involvement, CF Industries' Huntington facility has sponsored a swath of community groups and organizations.

Salvation Army basketball teams, youth sports at the Huntington YMCA, local Boy Scouts of America troops, the American Red Cross of Huntington County and the Boys and Girls Club of Huntington County have all benefited from the generosity of the industry.

And each year, CF Industries provides a grant for science education. In the past, Lancaster Elementary School and Salamonie School were recipients of the grant.

To top it off, CF has donated money to the Huntington Fire Department for equipment, and had also purchased a weather station for the City of Huntington.

CF Industries, Huntington Terminal, is located at 574 E. Hosler Road outside Huntington.