Texas City could soon be home to an $800 million ammonia plant.

City commissioners Wednesday will consider approving three separate agreements that would allow for Gulf Coast Ammonia to begin developing a plant at the Eastman Chemical Co. site, 201 Bay St. S., Mayor Matt Doyle said.

Gulf Coast Ammonia was formed in a partnership between Miami-based Agrifos and Borealis AG, Europe’s second-largest producer of polyethylene and polypropylene.

In forming Gulf Coast Ammonia, the two groups announced in May 2015 plans to build an ammonia plant along the Texas coast.

“The deal has probably been in the works for two years,” said Nick Finan, Texas City director of management services. “Maybe a little bit longer.”

Representatives for Gulf Coast Ammonia did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Texas City’s agreement with Gulf Coast Ammonia begins with $450 million in development, but includes language for $800 million or more in development at the Eastman facility in Texas City, Finan said.

“They signed an agreement with Eastman for leasing space within the facility and will construct a dock in conjunction with this,” Finan said.

Representatives with Eastman Chemical Company did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Commissioners Wednesday will consider a 10-year tax abatement agreement with Gulf Coast Ammonia that would also include a stipulation that the company pay the city a lump sum of money during each of those years, Finan said.

Those payments each year could range between $750,000 and $1 million depending on the value of development, Finan said.

Gulf Coast Ammonia officials didn’t specify how many jobs would be created by the facility, but it could range between 25 and 50 full-time positions, Finan said.

“It’s a nice deal,” Doyle said. “We are looking forward to moving that forward.”

The dock and facility are scheduled to be complete and open for business sometime in 2020, with construction starting sometime in 2018, Finan said.

Once completed, the facility would produce about 1.35 million metric tons a year of ammonia, according to documents released to The Daily News.

Ammonia plants have come under increasing scrutiny as of late following well-documented explosions, including the one that rocked West, Texas in 2013. Officials in Crosby following Hurricane Harvey were concerned about potential explosions when an Arkema ammonia plant was damaged.

The proposed Gulf Coast Ammonia plant would produce products for the chemical industry, making it different from other plants, Doyle said.

“This is not to be confused with ammonium nitrate,” Finan said. “Ammonia nitrate is very combustible. We don’t want to alarm people, because with the 1947 Texas City explosion, they were hauling ammonium nitrate. As with most chemical processes, I won’t say there is no danger or hazard, but it’s not as serious as ammonium nitrate.”

The West fertilizer explosion was producing ammonium nitrate.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


(4) comments

Randy Chapman

Oh yeah, there's no concern at all for health with large amounts of ammonia being stored in the southeast corner of a city with prevailing winds from the southeast for 9 months of the year. Does anyone remember the hydrofluoric acid spill a few decades ago? The effects could be much worse, considering the amounts of ammonia being considered.

Some facts:

Jim Forsythe

Many of the chemicals in the plants have a potential to harm to humans . Because of the training that the workers receive,bad things do not happen offend. If there is a problem, the response teams are very good at taking care of the problems.
As a person who has worked around both, HF acid has a lot more to be concerned about than Ammonia . HF acid, seeks calcium such as in your bones. Etches glass such as your car, glasses and such. Can hurt you, just from the scale in a demo pipe. You have to have your finger nails removed, if it get under them. To walk around the HF acid area, requires protection. To work around it, you have to have max. protection , total encapsulated suit
Ammonia must be respected, but, but not on the level that HF acid requires.
HFacid was the top of my list, of products I did not like working around. Ammonia did not make my top 10.

The HF acid  leak we had in TC was just vapor release. If it had been a liquid leak, many might have died
Oct. 30,1987
More than 1,000 residents were treated for eye and respiratory problems after a pipeline ruptured here, sending a cloud of gas into nearby residential neighborhoods.
. At news conferences here and in Washington, the Environmental Policy Institute compared the leak's potential peril to the accident at Bhopal, India, where more than 2,500 people were killed after a 1984 gas leak.
Fred Millar, a spokesman for the group, said that if the accident had released hydrofluoric acid in its more concentrated liquid form instead of as a gas, the accident could have killed thousands. The institute said the evacuation here was inadequate given the risks involved. 

Randy Chapman

Jim, the pipe didn't rupture in 1987, it was sheared off, due to worker error. I remember also the trees downwind losing all their leaves, all galvanized steel losing it's coating and rusting immediately, and homes with clouded window glass. Luckily, the wind remained constant in direction and didn't allow the cloud to do more damage to residents and property.

Do you remember when just 7,500 gallons of ammonia was spilled in the tanker wreck in Houston...I believe at I-45 and 610? Not a large spill at all, but many were injured due to vapor inhalation and several killed.

Again, my point is the volume of a possible spill. And yes, I know other chemicals are more dangerous. The purity of the NH3 typically used in chemical processes is not the same as the cleaners you buy in the grocery store. It is magnitudes stronger. The fact remains that in a gaseous form, nearly pure NH3, can overcome your lungs quickly, disable you, and kill you. It's not a benign chemical. But hey, it's great news for TC!

Jim Forsythe

Any city that has industry that produces chemicals, has a potential for accidents. To me, the higher risk is the trucks and railcars that are carrying the chemical, that we interact with each day.

"Jim, the pipe didn't rupture in 1987, it was sheared off, due to worker error."  That the point, it was a small incident because ir was only a shear at the top, and not a failure of the tank at the bottom. If it had failed at the bottom ,it would have been very bad, and the death count may have been in the thousands.
"Do you remember when just 7,500 gallons of ammonia was spilled in the tanker wreck " Yes, this lead to changes on how to transport  products.  As bad as the  7 dead 200 hurt from NH3in  at 610 and Southwest Freeway , it  would have been several times the death total if the truck had been hauling HF acid. 
."The purity of the NH3 typically used in chemical processes is not the same as the cleaners you buy in the grocery store" is very true for almost all chemicals produced or used in a Chemical plants. For example, some of oxygen we use in the plants will kill, if not used the correct way.
"my point is the volume of a possible spill" Unless you have a failure of a tank, leaks would be small, because of being able to contain the leak. 

 May, 11, 1976
Randy, below is the link to  Material Safety Data Sheet for HYDROFLUORIC ACID . Please take time to read it. Look at Section 3 and 4
and you may get a idea what it can do to humans , if handled wrong.


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