Back on October 30th I provided a brief analysis (see: “Ammonium Nitrate ANPRM – Comments Requested”) of the DHS Advance Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) for regulations of the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate. A number of commenters have already submitted their views on that issue, so it is time to start looking at those comments. As of November 7th six comments had been received and posted on the Regulations.gov web site. Those comments were from:
Westmoreland County Dept of Public Safety Norman Arendt Noah Clifton Patterson Anonymous Dept of Soil Science, ND State Hilltop Energy, Inc
Westmoreland County Dept of Public Safety Comments Christopher Tantlinger of the Westmoreland County DPS submitted two photographs (Photo #1, Photo #2)of an ammonium nitrate delivery truck overturned on the side of the road with a large portion of the solid contents spilled on the ground. He noted that the proposed regulations might want to address the security associated with these types of delivery vehicles without specifying any requirements. Norman Arendt Comments Norman Arendt addresses the ANPRM’s request for information about access to computers and computer skills of potential registrants under the new rule. He notes that many of his clients in Minnesota and Wisconsin are family farms and feed mills. He reports that computer skills are lacking and there is no access to the internet in many of these areas. He also notes that these farms and mills operate on a very slim margin and any increase in costs due to these regulations may result in many going out of business. He also reports that delivery of ammonium nitrate to this area is by barge on the Mississippi River and states that barge operators routinely accept a 15% loss of ammonium nitrate in route. Noah Clifton Patterson Comments Noah Patterson recommends that applications and certificates be filed and delivered by electronic means for the sake of efficiency while noting that provisions need to be made for hard copy operations in both instances for facilities and individuals that do not have access to the internet. He expresses concern with the potential vagueness of the standards for denial of registration. He would like to see ‘specific guidelines’ in the regulation outlining the appropriate basis for denial. He would also like to see the creation of an appeal system that includes non-DHS personnel in the process. Anonymous Comments This anonymous commenter notes that many ammonium nitrate users and sellers do not have routine access to the internet so that there need to be provisions for both electronic and hard copy submissions. He notes that agricultural extension offices may be a good source of providing information on the proposed ammonium nitrate program, but does not think that, because of budget limitations, they would be a good place to process applications. He notes that most users would be willing to switch to other types of fertilizers as long as:
It provides comparable crop growth and yield, It is applied in the same manner, It is widely available through existing fertilizer dealers, and It is of comparable cost.
Dept of Soil Science, ND State Comments R. Jay Goos notes that there are a number of acceptable substitutes for ammonium nitrate as a fertilizer. Hilltop Energy, Inc Comments Roger Hambleton notes the difficulty in meeting the theft/loss reporting requirements. He reports that because of bulk handling techniques and measurement technology, it would be difficult to detect relatively small losses during transportation and handling. My Comments on Comments Living in an area with limited internet access (only dial-up) I can sympathize with the commenters’ remarks about not relying on just internet submissions. DHS will certainly want to use electronic filing to ease the administrative burden of processing and filing the required information. Some sort of partnership with state agencies may be a solution to this problem. It is interesting to see the variety of comments about detecting losses/theft of anhydrous ammonia. I don’t have a lot of experience in handling bulk solids. Most of my experience in bulk handling was dealing with liquids. Even so, I can sympathize with commenters that cautioned that requirements for reporting losses and theft of anhydrous ammonia must take into account the practical limits of measurement technology.