Fertilizer storage and handling

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Fertilizer storage and handling checklist

Fertilizer storage areas contain concentrated nutrients that must be stored and managed properly. Risks in storage areas include the release of nutrients due to
broken, damaged, or leaking containers; a loss of security leading to irresponsible use; the accumulation of outdated materials giving rise to the storage of excessive quantities of fertilizer, in turn unnecessarily increasing the risk level; and the combustion of oxidizing compounds in fertilizer (e.g. nitrates) caused by a fire or other disaster. Fertilizers can cause harm if they reach the surface water or groundwater.

Checklist: Fertilizer storage

1. Use a building or area dedicated to fertilizer storage. This should, therefore, be separate from offices, surface water, neighbouring dwellings, and bodies of water; separate from pesticides; and protected from extreme heat and flooding. The storage area should have an impermeable floor with secondary containment, away from plant material and high traffic areas.

2. Keep the building or storage area locked and clearly labelled as a fertilizer storage area. Labels on the windows and doors of the building provide firefighters with information about fertilizers and other products present during an emergency response to a fire or a spill. Fire extinguishers should be present and immediately accessible, as well as emergency contact information.

3. Use pallets to keep large drums or bags off the floor. Shelves for smaller containers should have a lip to keep the containers from sliding off easily. Steel shelves are easier to clean than wood if a spill occurs.

4. When storing acids, the areas should have impermeable flooring with all surfaces draining to a neutralization pit, to deal with any spills that may occur. Adequate personal protection equipment should be available.

5. Adequate spill clean-up materials for liquids (e.g. absorbent materials) and solids (e.g. shovel, dustpan, broom, and buckets) should be available within the general area.

6. There should be no food, drink, tobacco products, or livestock feed present in storage areas containing general greenhouse supplies.

7. If you plan to store large bulk tanks, provide a containment area large enough to confine 125% of the contents of the largest bulk container. Extra care needs to be taken with concentrated stock solutions. Secondary containment should be used.

8. Fertilizer bags and boxes should be opened with a utility knife (Stanley knife) or scissors; open containers should be resealed and returned to storage where they should be kept in a dry place.

9. Fertilizers should be stored in their original containers unless damaged; labels should be visible and legible; food or beverage containers should never be used for storage.

10. Inventory should be actively updated as chemicals are added or removed from storage; materials should be dated when purchased and removed when outdated based on the latest advice from environmental protection authorities.

11. There should be active mechanical temperature control and no direct sources of heat (sunny windows, steam pipes, furnaces, etc.). Adequate ventilation must be ensured.

12. Never store fertilizers inside a well-house or a facility containing an abandoned well.

13. Provide adequate road access for deliveries and use.