Chemical possession rule
SIKESTON -- A new chemical possession rule that requires online registration will likely affect most local chemical and fertilizer companies but not many farmers. However, officials say it's something they all should be know about.
Last November the Department of Homeland Security released a list of chemicals and required anyone who possessed more than a threshold quantity of that chemical to register within 60 days of possession at a government Web site and undergo a preliminary screening process using the Chemical Security Assessment Tool (CSAT), which is called Top Screen.
"The intent of the rule is to manage terrorism risk associated with chemical facilities, but some of the chemicals are found on farms," said John Lory, University of Missouri Extension agronomist, in a news release.
Kirk Palmer, chemical and seed division manager for Delta Growers Association in East Prairie, said the locally operated fertilizer and chemical company has already met the approaching deadline. Information was sent into Homeland Security a while ago.
"Everybody has to submit what they think is on the list and you find out where you fall in a tier. We don't have any idea of what they want to check," Palmer said.
Eddie Barnhill of River Bend Ag said he doesn't think the regulation will affect the New Madrid business.
"We don't handle those chemicals, but I think it will affect a lot of (fertilizer) dealers. Everything we handle isn't scrutinized by Homeland Security," Barnhill said.
An employee with Helena Chemical Company in New Madrid said they hadn't yet been contacted about the rule by higher officials so he didn't know how or if the requirement would have a local effect.
How the new requirement will affect fertilizer and chemical companies is up in the air.
"We don't really know yet," Palmer said. "They just came out with the first phase, and we had to submit certain information about fertilizer or chemicals -- and fuel also -- that we possess," Palmer said.
Homeland Security's list includes several hundred chemicals, and much of that has to do with the industrial segment of the United States, Palmer said.
"People just need to be aware of the regulations being passed down due to this," Palmer said. "They can't hide from it. It's something we're all going to do. Ignorance doesn't qualify."
Of the chemicals listed, ammonium nitrate is the most likely chemical to affect crop farmers, Lory said. Anyone possessing more than 1 ton of any material that contains 23 percent or more of nitrogen in the form of ammonium nitrate must register in the program.
The rule doesn't differentiate based on time of possession so a person handling more than 1 ton of ammonium nitrate for a few hours or for a month is equally affected, Lory said.
Other chemicals on the list include propane and anhydrous ammonia. The threshold amount should not affect many farmers, but they should at least be aware of the rule, he said.
Limits are 60,000 pounds for propane (material in containers less than 10,000 pounds do not count toward the total) and 10,000 pounds for anhydrous ammonia.
Potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate are both chemicals of interest and have the low threshold of 400 pounds. These two chemicals are infrequently used on conventional row crops, but may be found on some farms, Lory said.
Anthony Ohmes, agronomy specialist for the Mississippi County University of Missouri Extension, said Missouri has had special regulations with chemical possession for years, at least since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
"Most growers try to avoid those minor regulations with the state so it (the new regulation) probably won't apply to any producer I know of because they've always been accustomed to guidelines within the state," Ohmes said.
Chemical distribution facilities and commercial chemical application services must register with the government by Jan. 22.
However, the deadline was recently extended indefinitely to "farms (e.g., crop, fruit, nut, and vegetable); ranches and rangeland; poultry, dairy, and equine facilities; turfgrass growers; golf courses; nurseries; floricultural operations; and public and private parks operations."
The indefinite extension of the registration deadline does not mean that farmers will not be affected by these rules, Lory said.
"We all will have to wait to see what DHS decides about farm requirements under chemical reporting rules," Lory said.
To learn more about Top Screen and register to gain access to the Top Screen assessment process, visit the DHS Web site http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc....
Companies should be prepared to provide the following information upon registration: their facility's name, street address, city, state, ZIP code, county, latitude and longitude.
"The registration process and review will take more than one sitting. Don't wait until the last minute to start the process," Lory said.