Anhydrous ammonia storage reaches council

Central Valley Ag wants to replace the two anhydrous ammonia storage tanks at its Tekamah facility with one larger tank. Company officials discussed their plans with Tekamah City Council Thursday night.

Tekamah City Council last week heard Central Valley Ag’s plans to upgrade its anhydrous ammonia storage.

The company wants to replace its two storage tanks on the east side of its Tekamah fertilizer facility with one larger tank.

The plan, which has yet to be approved by necessary state regulators, has one opponent at the local level.

“I am opposed to anhydrous that close to the population,” Mayor Ron Grass said. “We lost a good man not long ago to an anhydrous leak.”

But comparing the pipeline leak that claimed Phil Hennig’s life in 2016 to the above ground storage tank CVA has planned is like comparing night to day, company officials said.

CVA’s Matt Johnson said the Magellan Pipeline leak released more gas overnight than CVA moves in a year, “and (a pipeline) doesn’t have the safety shutoffs.”

CVA’S corporate safety manager said should the unthinkable happen and an accident occurs at the proposed site, so little gas would escape, “the neighbors may not notice.”

He said the bigger concern is for the company’s employees who would be on the front line of any accident. “That’s why our safety procedures are what they are—to keep people safe.”

He said he personally inspects the company’s storage tanks every year. They are checked more often by local CVA employees.

Johnson said a report generated from the inspections can be submitted to the city.

Company representatives said anhydrous has been stored at the site since 1958.

The tanks currently in use are former railroad tank cars.

Company officials said the tanks aren’t being replaced over concerns that they are unsafe. Rather the company is under a requirement from the Compressed Gas Association to replace them because the technology involved in anhydrous storage tanks has improved greatly.

The CGA is a nonprofit organization that develops and publishes standards related to the equipment and supply chain used in the compressed gas industry. Headquartered near Washington, D.C., CGA standards have been adopted by governmental agencies in the United States and Canada. CGA standards are agreed upon by over 125 contributing member companies around the world.

The biggest improvement is in the tanks themselves, company representatives said. Safety valves are built into the tanks themselves to stop gas flow should an accident occur. Additionally, new tanks must be what he called “board registered.” A report is easily accessed on any certified tank, detailing the specifications of its constructions all the way down to the quality of the steel used in its construction.

“You can’t do that with rail cars,” he said.

The installation of the new equipment is believed to be a permitted use under the city’s zoning regulations, however, city officials wanted the opinion of City Attorney Matt Munderloh before signing off on the proposal. An answer is expected in time for the council’s Oct. 10 meeting.

In other business Sept. 26, the council:

—Agreed to a $25,000 contract with Leak Investigators to make repairs at Tekamah Pool.

Parks and Pool Commissioner Chad Zink said the $25,000 is only an estimate. If the actual cost exceeds that amount, the city will be charged an hourly rate, $110 per hour for a technician and a laborer, for the rest of the work.

The scope of work calls for the replacement of bad caulking in 319 linear feet of joints where the pool floor meets the walls and another 84 linear feet of expansion joints in the pool floor.

Zink said Leak Investigators was the company that performed the dye testing which helped identify the source of the leaks that cost the city nearly 10,000 gallons of water a day during the summer.

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