Explosion of the Terra Ammonium Nitrate Plant, Port, Neal, Iowa
On 13 Dec 1994, two massive detonations leveled portions of an ammonium nitrate plant near Sioux City, IA. The primary explosion allegedly occurred in defectively-designed titanium sparger piping inside the neutralizer vessel. Investigation however, revealed the explosion occurred because of unsafe plant operations and poor maintenance procedures. Specifically, the ammonium nitrate within the 18,000 gal capacity neutralizer vessel had become contaminated and made highly acidic. The operators then injected superheated steam directly into the ammonium nitrate in the neutralizer vessel.