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Fortigen set to make ammonia on July 25th

By GREG SCELLIN
Signal Editor

Construction work on the anhydrous ammonia producing part of the Fortigen fertilizer plant is progressing right on schedule, according to Fortigen Sr. Project Engineer Joe Casey. It’s moving along so well, that Casey said the fertilizer plant, which is located in the extreme northeast part of Geneva, will be producing anhydrous ammonia next month.
“We are on schedule,” Casey said. “We will produce ammonia on the 25th of July.”
Casey noted that construction at the $75 million fertilizer plant is broken down into two areas.  One is the ISBL (inside boundary limits) and the other is the OSBL (outside boundary limits). Casey said, everything that is used to make ammonia is basically labeled ISBL, while the OSBL portion of the plant is the supporting part of the ammonia production process.
Currently, Casey said, the largest piece of equipment that will be used in the anhydrous ammonia producing process, a 4,000 horsepower ammonia compressor, is in the final stage of completion.
“From Day 1, the schedule was to have the ISBL work completed by July 25,” Casey said. “We’re on schedule for that. We currently have over 200 contractors on site working six days a week in order to maintain that schedule.”
Casey was also eager to point out that construction work on the plant has recently passed the 250,000 man-hour mark with no loss of time or any recordable injury accidents, which is pretty much unheard of with a project of this size.
Ground was formally broken by Tetrad Corporation founder and CEO W. David Scott of Omaha on March 11, 2016, at the 20-acre plant site in Geneva. Josh Westling is the president of Fortigen.
With the continued success of the ISBL portion of the construction, the same cannot be said with the OSBL portion of the work.  Some damage has occurred on the plant’s main fertilizer tank during the testing process.  The tank can be seen for miles away on the western edge of the plant site.
Casey said the tank’s failure is still a mystery to everyone involved.  He said Fortigen and contractors will be bringing in a company that specializes in 3-D laser measurements and they will be creating a 3-D model of the tank in its current condition.  It should show how the tank has been affected, he said.
“Our efforts have been very aggressive with this,” Casey said.  “We don’t know what caused this incident.  The contractor who is fabricating the tank is doing an engineering study.  A third party company is doing an evaluation.  Once we understand what happened, a plan will be formulated.  We have no idea what that plan will ask us to do.”
The extra work that may be required by this plan could affect the timetable for completion of the OSBL work.
“As a company, we are focused on the ISBL,” Casey said.  “The tank is not in that.  It is a part of the OSBL.”
When the ISBL and OSBL work are completed, Fortigen is expected to employ approximately 30 workers at the beginning.
“We have been very pleased with the workforce we have been able to attract,” Casey said.  “I would say 75 percent of the employees who will operate and maintain the plant on a day-to-day basis are from a 50-mile radius.”
Casey said this is important because a Scott family philosophy is to bring industry to rural Nebraska.  Along with this added workforce, Fortigen has used as many local contractors as it can in the contruction process including Andrews Electric and Geneva Engineering, both of Geneva.
“We intentionally seek local Nebraska companies,” Casey said.  “Our goal is to improve the lifestyle of the people in central Nebraska.”