800,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate made it’s way through the Port of Nome over the weekend, en route to a storage location northwest of the Nome airport.
Nome Gold was the recipient of the order, which – when combined with fuel and an igniting agent – forms an explosive used in mining operations. The ammonium nitrate was accompanied by 4,000 pounds of blasting caps that were offloaded separately.
The material took approximately four hours to transport on Saturday, and Fire Chief Jerry Steiger said four fire fighters and one fire truck, with active hoses, were on standby throughout the move — as per Coast Guard regulations.
“The transfer of the ammonium nitrate went very smoothly, off the barge and onto the dock here in Nome. And the transportation out to the site was also fairly seamless and smooth,” said Steiger on Monday.
Concerns were raised by members of Nome’s Emergency Planning Commission last week regarding the transportation and storage of such a large order of ammonium nitrate. Alone, the compound functions as a fertilizer — becoming an explosive only when mixed with fuel and an igniting agent, like blasting caps.
Steiger says the ammonium nitrate moved Saturday was unmixed, meaning no fuel had yet been added to the compound. Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) regulations now dictate the material be stored separately from the blasting caps.
Nome Gold declined to comment on either transportation or storage of the compound.