An explosion early this morning (Thurs 1 June) at Terra Nitrogen’s Billingham site on Teesside is unlikely to affect supplies of ammonium nitrate, the company has said.

A fire, thought to involve mixed gases including hydrogen, nitrogen and ammonia, broke out shortly after midnight in the firm’s ammonia plant, situated about a mile away from its Portrack fertiliser plant.

By 3am, police said the incident had been scaled down.

“There’s no impact currently on fertiliser production,” marketing manager Mandy Cruickshanks told Farmers Weekly this morning. “The nitric acid and fertiliser plants are still running. I don’t believe there’ll be an impact on our supply, as far as I am aware.

“At the moment we don’t know how long the impact on the ammonia plant will be, but we have run the fertiliser plant without our ammonia plant being on line earlier this year – we have import facilities for ammonia at Billingham.”

Terra Nitrogen is the UK’s largest manufacturer of nitrogen products, producing half a million tonnes of ammonium nitrate at its Portrack facility alongside blended sulphur grades and NPK fertiliser.

The company employs 250 people on Teesside. Two people working at the Billingham site were treated for minor cuts and shock.