Environmental statutes impacting the fertilizer industry include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. Additionally, legislative, regulatory and non-governmental organization (NGO) activities, including legal action pertaining to nutrients in the environment, revisions to the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and the development of numeric nutrient criteria in Florida and other states have already begun to impact the industry and its farmer customers. In Florida, EPA, partially in response to an environmental litigant’s lawsuit, has taken over the development of numeric nutrient criteria (NNC). Additionally, EPA is developing TMDL and new regulatory strategies for addressing nutrients and sediments in the Chesapeake Bay.
Environmental Concerns in Fertilizer Manufacturing
In order to remain sustainable, fertilizer production and use must take place in the most environmentally sensitive manner possible. Protecting air and water quality and water quantity during the production of fertilizers is of the utmost concern to the industry. In response to air quality concerns at local and national levels, fertilizer manufacturers implement a number of environmental management systems to control air emissions of concern including emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur oxides (SOX), particulate matter and ammonia (NH3). Similarly, fertilizer manufacturers employ practices that protect water quality and to minimize the quantity of water use in the fertilizer production process.
Environmental Concerns in Fertilizer Retailing
Fertilizer retailers often custom blend fertilizers for their farmer’s crop and soil specific needs. Retailers pay particular attention to minimizing the potential for spills or other product losses at loading and unloading sites, conveyer belts, mixing areas, material holding areas and storage tanks. Best management practices often involve ensuring that facilities are well lit, well laid out and easy to navigate, making sure that workers are properly trained in handling fertilizers and bulk blending equipment. Retail facilities have secondary containment structures – usually concrete surfaces surrounded by berms or dikes so that a product spill or stormwater is unable to escape. In addition, retailers train their employees in spill mitigation and cleanup procedures.
Working with Communities and Emergency Responders
The fertilizer industry is committed to minimizing the risk of injury or environmental impact to the communities in which it operates. Manufacturing and retail distribution facilities typically work closely with local law enforcement agencies and emergency response agencies; often participating in drills and simulated incidents with first responder units.