KINGSBURY — The owner of Kingsbury Elevator is planning to expand the business.
Ed Lindborg is seeking a zoning variance to allow him to store flammable anhydrous ammonia inside two tanks, each holding up to 45,000 gallons of the crop fertilizer.
Lindborg said the anhydrous ammonia would be shipped to the elevator at Kingsbury Industrial Park in rail cars from four production facilities in Mississippi, Iowa and Canada.
The fertilizer, compressed in liquid form, would be stored in tanks to be located in an open field more than two thousand feet from the grain elevator.
He said the anhydrous ammonia would be held until delivered by semi to retailers mostly in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
Farmers within a 20 to 30 mile radius of the elevator would also be able to go directly to the site to purchase the fertilizer.
“We’re doing a good project. It’s good for the local farmers,” Lindborg said.
The LaPorte County Redevelopment Commission last week approved extending a water line to the site to provide the facility with fire protection.
The fertilizer converts to a gas and becomes explosive when released into the air.
Lindborg said the plan includes installation of sensing technology that would detect and start an automatic sprinkler system to neutralize the gas if a leak ever developed in the tanks.
He said the office of the Indiana State Chemist has already issued a permit for the proposed operation.
Lindborg said he’s seeking a variance from the LaPorte County Board of Zoning Appeals because the project involves storage of anhydrous ammonia, and to be transparent about his plans with local authorities as an extra safety precaution.
“This thing is highly regulated and, basically, extremely safe the way we’re doing it,” he said.
Kingsbury Elevator already has room to store up to 10,000 tons of liquid and dry fertilizer for selling to local farmers.
Lindborg said the expansion would give farmers within a 500 mile radius of the elevator access to fertilizer at a lower price than they’re currently paying.
“It’s just an extension of what we’re doing already,” he said.
Kingsbury Elevator expanded its rail yard in 2015 with four additional service lines for the Canadian National railroad to use for bringing in more corn and soybeans along with fertilizer.
The product is stored then distributed from the elevator.
Another expansion at the elevator, with both projects totaling about $8 million, happened about three years later.
Lindborg's request for a variance is scheduled to be heard at the April 20 meeting of the LaPorte County Board of Zoning Appeals at 6 p.m.
Lindborg said he hopes to begin work on installing the storage facility in May.
Matt Reardon of the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development did not anticipate any difficulties with obtaining a variance.
He said Kingsbury Industrial Park is already zoned for heavy industry and the fertilizer is widely used in agriculture.
He also said extra safety precautions must be taken for projects of this nature.
“There’s special rules that are required by the state of Indiana to make sure that your storage and operation are safe and secure and protects the surrounding the area,” he said.