ARA: ResponsibleAg has two-fold mission
click image to zoomDaren Coppock, ARA President & Chief Executive Officer ARA and the Fertilizer Insitute (TFI) have been putting considerable effort over the past several months into a fertilizer code of practice to be known as ResponsibleAg.
Constructing it has been important and time-consuming effort, but equally important is communicating with the industry to keep everyone briefed and to collect suggestions along the way.
We have nearly 80 industry volunteers engaged in putting the program together and are receiving a good share of input, but we are always interested in suggestions for improvement.
WHAT IS RESPONSIBLEAG?
ResponsibleAg is envisioned to be a joint venture of ARA and TFI. It is intended to have a twofold mission:
1. Create a registration database of all fertilizer storage and distribution facilities, and
2. Provide a checklist of federal regulatory requirements for those facilities, audit facilities against that checklist, make the results available to the facility manager and allow suppliers of fertilizer products to know if that facility passed its audit prior to shipping product.
ARA actually began working on a Code of Practice for anhydrous ammonia back in February, when the ARA Board charged the organization to review the existing systems in Canada and elsewhere and to develop a model for the United States.
After the April 17, 2013, incident in West, Texas, TFI expressed interest in becoming a full partner in the project and the scope was broadened to include ammonium nitrate.
Specific checklists have been developed by industry workgroups for those two products. Since federal inspections are not product specific, the inspection scope will be for federal regulatory requirements that apply to fertilizer storage and distribution facilities.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
First, we want to prevent accidents. There is not a single person in our industry who wants to see another incident like the one that happened at West Fertilizer occur again in our business. If there is a practical way for the industry to reduce the risks of accidents for our employees, neighbors and customers, we owe it to them to do so.
Second, we want to help steward knowledge of regulatory requirements. There are varying levels of awareness, and it’s no wonder—the regulatory environment is very complex and sometimes even conflicting.
Testimony provided by the Texas Ag Industries Association indicated that many site managers thought that registering with the Texas State Chemist’s office satisfied their regulatory obligations to the federal Department of Homeland Security CFATS program and EPA’s Tier II reporting. As a result of this confusion, people who thought they were fully compliant turned out to be in violation of federal requirements. ResponsibleAg will consolidate the federal requirements into a single checklist, and then provide a non-regulatory audit of sites.