Regarding the oversight of buildings, storage site regulations and safety reporting requirements, fertilizer is regulated at both the federal and state levels.  Federal agencies of jurisdiction include the Department of Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation. At the state level, fertilizers are regulated by agriculture offices.

To add another layer of safety, West Sacramento Fire Chief Al Terrell explained to a local TV station that there are regulations and plans that California companies and cities have in place to prevent accidents.

Terrell said to prevent a massive blast in the first place, local authorities, not state authorities, are required to check the facilities in person.

“We conduct annual inspections that are planned when we go in and inspect the entire facility and we conduct unannounced ones,” the fire chief told the TV reporter.

So the long and short of it is, local authorities work with state departments to regulate California fertilizer manufacturers and distributors. They all actually regulate these businesses together under what’s called the Certified Unified Protection Agency or CUPA, which delegates to locals the authority to enforce state law.

In the nutshell, nitrogen is one of the nutrient elements plants need to grow, so we can eat. Every apple or ear of corn plucked represents nutrients pulled from the soil, and for land to remain productive, those nutrients must be replenished. The amount of regulatory oversight is vital in carrying out this process safely. While it is in the realm of possibility, it’s encouraging to know that in California the odds are in our favor that we will never have to experience an accident on the scale of the one in Texas. 

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