Mar 7, 2022 - News

Fertilizer plant proposed next to Des Moines' airport

Illustration of an airplane runway in the shape of a recycling symbol

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A fertilizer manufacturing and storage facility would be constructed on Des Moines’ southside — across the road from an airport clear zone — under a proposal that goes before the City Council this evening.

Why it matters: Fertilizer plant emergencies can result in widespread safety and environmental contamination.

  • A fire at a plant with about 600 tons of the highly volatile ammonium nitrate in North Carolina earlier this year, for example, resulted in the evacuation of thousands of people.
  • The proximity to the Des Moines International Airport elevates safety concerns, Councilperson Josh Mandelbaum told Axios Friday.

Details: Spraytec Fertilizers would construct a $7 million, 51,000-square-foot manufacturing, warehouse and office facility at 7404 SW 37th St. under the proposal.

  • 11 new jobs would be created.
  • A tax break of just over $700,000 could be made available to the company under a state jobs program.

What they're saying: Spraytec's products are 100% biodegradable, nonhazardous and result in no emissions or smell, Renato Firmento, an operations manger for the company, told Axios Friday.

  • The DSM facility would be the headquarters for the Brazil-based company's north America production, Firmento said.

The other side: A zoning amendment for the Airport Business Park that is necessary for Spraytec's project could open the door for other similar types of facilities with greater safety or environmental risks, Mandelbaum said.

  • He will ask the other council members to join him in voting against the change, which the DSM Plan and Zoning Commission supported in a 14-0 vote in January.

What's next: Tonight's council meeting begins at 5pm.

Of note: Local officials do not believe the plant would break airspace limitations or have impact on travel but the final determination is left to federal regulators, Kayla Kovarna, a spokesperson for the DSM International Airport told Axios Sunday.

A drawing of a proposed Des Moines fertilizer plant.
Spraytec Fertilizers' manufacturing, storage and office facility would be constructed at 7404 SW 37th St. in Des Moines. Drawing courtesy of Spraytec.
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