WJBF Investigates: Plans for ammonium nitrate storage facility in Taliaferro County

TALIAFERRO COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — A small community in Taliaferro County, Georgia is concerned about the construction of an ammonium nitrate storage facility.

Ammonium nitrate is mostly used in agriculture as fertilizer, but the compound can also be used as an explosive.

“It’s like a bad dream and you want to just wake up and you just realize it was a bad dream, you can go back to bed, but it’s not,” Taliaferro County Resident Terry Howard said.

Howard has lived in Taliaferro County her entire life.

The 58-year-old says her family was here before the county was even formed.

“This area, during slavery, was the Atkinson Plantation.  I’m a direct descendant from those slaves at Atkinson Plantation,” Howard said.

She says the area has a lot of history, including a church that was formed in 1865 and a school that was built in 1935.

“Built by the community from the logs they cut off their own property,” she said.

But now, right down the road, another project is being considered.

It’s a proposed ammonium nitrate storage facility.

Howard says the 80 acres would house two 60 ton silos full of the chemical.

“Ammonium nitrate is a terrorist’s favorite chemical because it advances a fire. Timothy McVeigh used it in the Oklahoma City Bombing,” Howard said.

In 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion happened at a Texas fertilizer company. 15 people died.

In 1947, the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. History happened at the Port of Texas City, which also stored the compound.

581 people died in that explosion.

“I want Elite Blasting Company to put his ammonium nitrate away from people,” Howard said.

Now that a gravel road has been constructed, Howard and others want to know why they weren’t informed about the proposed storage facility.

“The zoning board didn’t know anything. They didn’t have any prior approval,” Howard said.

Taliaferro County chairman Charles Ware tells NewsChannel 6 public notice wasn’t given because the project isn’t ready to be started yet.

He says the company still needs a lot of permits before construction can start.

There’s also the matter of rezoning the land.

For Howard though, none of that matters, she doesn’t want the facility near her.

“We are the 4th poorest county in the state of Georgia. How is this company going to benefit us in growing?” Howard said.

The Department of Homeland Security is the agency that regulates ammonium nitrate.

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