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Publication > Issue > Articles

Longview's Pacific gateway

Summary

The Port of Longview, Washington State, is a hub for North American trade in cereals and forest products. Fertilizers also make an important contribution to the Port's success, as International Raw Materials (IRM) has built up a major business in distributing a full range of high-quality products from its modern terminal.

Abstract

From its location 66 miles from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia River in south west Washington State, the Port ofLongview has expanded into the state's third largest port. While forest products were for long the primary source oftraffic at Longview, the Port has diversified into handling a wide range of dry bulk products, including fertilizers, as well as containers and break bulk. This diversity has been made possible because the Port ofLongview is a full-service operating port, at the centre of a comprehensive network of import/export shipping and warehouse/distribution facilities, with excellent overland connections.

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Stockton wins environmental plaudits

Summary

The export of sulphur is a significant source of traffic at the Port of Stockton - the major transportation hub of the San Francisco Bay area. As the Port reaches full capacity, it has received a major shot in the arm following the transfer of 500 acres of undeveloped property from the US Navy.

Abstract

Located 75 miles due east of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, on the Stockton Deepwater Ship Channel, the Port ofStockton is the major transportation hub for the Bay Area. Occupying a 600-acre operating area, the port has berthing space for ten vessels, 500,000 ft2 ofdockside transit sheds, and 2.7 million ft2 ofwarehousing for dry bulk and general cargoes. Each warehouse is served by rail. Stockton's deepwater channel has an average depth of 37 ft at average low tide, enabling the port to handle Panamax vessels ofup to 60,000 dwt fully loaded.

Sulphur is a major export cargo, along with other dry bulk products, including coal and grain. Steel pipes and scrap steel are also exported via Stockton. Among the cargoes imported are fertilizers (dry and liquid), anhydrous ammonia, cement, molasses and machinery.

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Facts prevail over fear

Summary

A key ingredient in the quest to ensure long-term food security and eliminate a major pocket of malnutrition, micronutrients have recently gained some unwelcome publicity arising from the manufacturing processes employed and the use of recycled materials. The fertilizer industry has worked hard to ensure that the issues relating to micronutrients are properly understood and based on strict scientific criteria.

Abstract

Micronutrients have recently gained an unfortunate "Jekyll and Hyde" reputation in popular perception. Just as farmers throughout the world began to recognise the vital role played by micronutrient fertilizers, a series of press articles - spearheaded by the Seattle Times and first published nearly three years ago as "Fear in the Fields" - caused considerable doubts to be cast over the merits of these products. The articles suggested that a full-scale public health emergency was being concealed. However, attention in the issue of micronutrient fertilizers appears to have waned. This presents an ideal opportunity to take a measured assessment of micronutrient fertilizers, what they are, how they are manufactured, and how they are applied.

Agricultural scientists have been paying ever more attention to the significance of micronutrients, recognising that they may become critical "minimum factors" as other critical factors are amended and as yield levels rise. (Fertilizers and Their Effective Use, IFA) The US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is one organisation which advocates the greater use of micronutrients in order to maintain the momentum of the Green Revolution. This is likely to prove a more immediately effective path towards food security than genetically-modified plants (GMOs), ARS believes. Rather than only increasing yields or improving diseaseand insect-resistance in plants, ARS advocates harnessing the power ofplant breeding to solve a major outstanding problem of malnutrition: the continuing lack of trace elements and vitamins in the diets of millions of people. While the Green Revolution ensured increased overall production ofcereals that provide large quantities of most macronutrients, the boost to global food production was accompanied by an increase in micronutrient malnutrition.

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Eppawala - a long, bumpy .road to a green light

Summary

Attempts to establish the commercial development of the Eppawala phosphate deposit and downstream fertilizer production facilities in Sri Lanka have spanned nearly three decades. US fertilizer interests, initially as Agrico Chemical Company, then Freeport McMoran and since 1997, IMC-Agrico, have been pushing the project for the past two of those decades. But politics and vested interests, within Sri Lanka and beyond its shores, as well as other groups, including some that have hijacked the project for their own ends, have shadowed the project every step of the way. Lynda Davies looks at the issues surrounding the Eppawala phosphates project.

Abstract

One hundred and ninety kilometres northeast of the Sri Lankan capital ofColombo in the North Central heartland of the island lies Pospet Kanda, otherwiseknown as Phosphate Hill. Until 1971 it was just one of many large rocky outcrops which dot the otherwise flat terrain surrounding the city of Eppawala. Even after 1971 when the island's Geological and Mineralogical Surveys Department discovered that it contains apatite, and a small-scale Governmentowned phosphate rock mining operation started up in 1973, Pospet Kanda attracted attention only because of its proximity to Eppawala, a town of historic and contemporary importance to this district.

Then in the early 1980s, the US' Agrico Chemical Company's interest in developing the deposit, which culminated in the Sri Lankan Government's go-ahead for a US/]apanese majority consortium to mine phosphates at Eppawala (see text box) despite fierce opposition from within Sri Lanka and further afield, set Pospet Kanda and Eppawala firmly on the world stage.

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Keeping abreast of the magnesium problem

Summary

Florida phosphate producers are encountering higher levels of magnesium in the ore that they now are mining. But as David Leyshon* outlines in this article, the producers and the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research are not taking the problem lightly.

Abstract

Much of Central Florida's phosphate has analysed in the ranges of 0.35% to 0.65% MgO as processed over the past 40 years. However, as the mines move south, higher levels ofMgO are being encountered. The major Florida producers are all facing higher magnesium and are actively seeking the answer.

The economic impact of increased magnesium was studied in the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research (FIPR) project 92-01-102 reported in publication No.01-102-112, carried out in 1993 by A.N. Baumann and Jacobs Engineering(l).Aseries ofphosphoric acid pilot plant tests was conducted on samples of mixed concentrate and pebble analysingO.65%, 1.2% and 1.83% MgO. The pilot plant results are shown in figures 1 and 2, showing the reduced filtration rates in short tons of P20S/square feet/day (x 9.76 for tonnes/m3/day), and increased P20 Slosses for the high MgO materials. It should be cautioned that these pilot plant results are somewhat ideal and water soluble losses, particularly, are higher in commercial practice and filtration rates lower due to the ideal nature of the tests.

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A filter war

Summary

The 24th Annual Memorial Weekend Convention of the Central Florida Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) at Clearwater, Florida took place on 16-18 June. John Sinden* reports on the meeting's highlights.

Abstract

The 24th Central Florida Section AIChE meeting at Clearwater, and the 30,h in the series, was held at the now traditional venue ofthe Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Clearwater Beach. After the doom and gloom of the Nitric Acid Producers meeting in Savannah, Georgia a few days earlier, the more optimistic air at the Clearwater meeting was a welcome change.

Attendance at Clearwater was slightly down on previous years, with around 320 participants compared with the usual 360370. There was the usual significant number of overseas participants, however.

This year'sprogrammefollowed the format ofthe past two years with parallel workshops on the Friday afternoon and parallel sessions on the Saturday.

One workshop was on phosphate fertilizer technology, the moderator ofwhich was James Cox ofKEMworks Technology Inc. The second was the sulphuric acid workshop, which was chaired once again by Rick Davis of PE Davis & Associates.

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Natural radioactivity of phosphates and phosphogypsum

Summary

Following the issue of new safety standards against dangers from ionising radiation (96129/Euratom), it has been necessary to re-assess the radiological hazards of phosphate products and phosphogypsum. The radioactivity of phosphate deposits fluctuates widely, but the activity levels during production and use of phosphate fertilizers are not likely to exceed the new limits. The major part of the radioactive compounds is transferred to the phosphogypsum and the activity levels of many phosphogypsum stacks are so high, that they exceed the limits and cannot be used as raw material in the construction industry. But the radioactivity levels of phosphogypsum produced from igneous phosphate rocks - for example at Siilinjiirvi in Finland - are below the new limit. Jukka Karhunen* and Stephan Vermeulen* of Kemira Agro Oy's Espoo Research Centre report.

Abstract

Three natural radioactive decay series occur in the earth's crust: the radionuclides U-238, U-235 and Th-232). These series are commonly called the uranium series, the actinium series and the thorium series. There also are naturally occurring non-series radionuclides, ofwhich K-40, that decays straight to stable Ar-40 or Ca-40, is the most important. The mean activity concentrations of the main primordial nuclides are listed in table 1(I).

The main chain of the radioactive decay series ofU-238 and Th-232 is presented in table 2(2). Generally the actinium decay series does not playa significant role in the natural environment.

Since all radionuclides following U238, U-235 and Th-232 have shorter half-lives than the mother nuclides, the undisturbed (not subjected to chemical separation) decay series are said to be in secular equilibrium, i.e. all daughter nuclides in phosphate rocks have the same activity concentrations as the mother nuclides.

The daughter nuclide of radium (Ra-226) is radon (Rn-222), which causes over 50% of the collective radiation dose to the members ofthe public in Finland(3). The risks related to radon (Rn-222) itself are limited. However, gaseous radon decays further into short-lived radioactive solid products. These products attach rapidly to aerosols and dust particles in the air and can be inhaled and deposited in the lungs causing damage to the lung tissues.

K-40 decays to stable Ar-40 and stable Ca-40 as follows (EC = electron capture):

  • 11% K-40 (EC) 1.3(109 a -> Ar-40 (stable)
  • 89% K-40 (B) 1.3 (1 09 a-> Ca-40 (stable).

 

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