By Rod Nickel
June 19 The CF Industries Holdings Inc's
ammonia plant where a fatal blast occurred last week will be
idle for weeks longer than scheduled, but the extra downtime
will have little impact on nitrogen output or ability to supply
customers, the manager of North America's largest nitrogen
The accident occurred on Friday at around 6 p.m. in a
section of the Donaldsonville, Louisiana, plant that had been
shut for maintenance when a nitrogen vessel ruptured during
off-loading. The blast killed one worker and sent seven others
to hospital, where one worker remains in stable condition.
The ammonia plant where the blast occurred is one of five at
the Donaldsonville site that produce the nitrogen-based
fertilizer, said Lou Frey, vice-president and general manager of
the Donaldsonville complex.
"This is a small part of our operation and it's a small part
of the overall CF system because we have other facilities
throughout the United States," Frey said on Wednesday. "We'll
have to redistribute product from different places, but overall
it won't have an impact."
Farmers apply nitrogen, which is also produced as urea and
UAN fertilizer, to boost yields of corn and other crops. CF,
based in Deerfield, Illinois, is the world's second-biggest
nitrogen producer after Norway's Yara International ASA
CF's plan before the accident was to complete maintenance
and restart the ammonia plant by mid- to late July. But it will
remained closed until CF and health and safety investigators
determine the cause of the blast.
The complex, built in the 1960s, has the capacity to produce
5 million tons of nitrogen products annually. CF is seeking
permits to allow a $2.1 billion expansion that would make it the
world's largest nitrogen facility.
Frey said he did not know if the accident would affect CF's
The last fatal incident, a fire and explosion at the
complex, killed three workers in 2000.
CF Industries shares were trading in New York in early
afternoon at $190.80, up more than 3 percent from Friday's
The explosion in Donaldsonville, a town of about 8,000
residents, came a day after a blast at a Williams Olefins
petrochemical plant about 10 miles north in Geismar left
two people dead and injured more than 100.
A fire and massive blast at a nitrate fertilizer plant in
West, Texas, in April, killed 14 people and injured more than
200, focusing attention on the hazards of handling chemicals.