NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
November 2, 2000
Moving anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks on public roads can be a risky situation, according to a North Dakota State University farm safety specialist. Thatís why those doing the driving must take every precaution possible to reduce the risk.
"The anhydrous ammonia in the nurse tank is highly pressurized, so an accident may result in an uncontrolled release," says George Maher of the NDSU Extension Service. "Once in the field the only people at risk are those downwind and those working with the nurse tank. On the road, an accident may put other drivers and those living nearby in harmís way."
Fortunately, there are regulations in effect to reduce the risk for everyone, he notes. The person doing the driving is always completely responsible for whatever happens to the load being pulled.
"Remember that transporting nurse tanks on a public road is an age-appropriate task," Maher says. Youngsters must be at least 14 years of age and have a valid driver's license to drive a tractor or motor vehicle and pull one or two anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks on North Dakota public roads. They can only do this for their parents. To be able to do this for an employer, they must have a valid drivers license and be 16 years old.
Not more than two anhydrous ammonia nurse tank wagons can be towed legally at any time with a pickup, farm tractor, or truck. The anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks cannot be towed any faster than 25 miles per hour. The hours for moving nurse tanks on public roads are between sunrise and sunset. After dark, it is completely illegal to move anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks on a public road. The slow moving vehicle (SMV) sign must always be on display.
Always use the safety chains whenever nurse tanks, empty or full, are moved on the road at speeds faster than 15 miles per hour, even with a tractor, Maher advises. They help to insure that you remain in control of the nurse tank even if the hitch pin should jump out. The chains must be strong and secure enough so they don't break if the hitch pin should come out. Safety chains should always allow turning without binding.
The labels on nurse tanks must be maintained. "Anhydrous ammonia" must be displayed on both sides, front and rear in green letters two inches or more in height. The nurse tank must display either "Non-Flamable Gas" or "1500" Department of Transportation placards on both sides and front and back. It must also display "Inhalation Hazard" on both sides with green letters at least two inches high. All tank valves should be labeled to indicate whether the opening is for liquid or vapor service. Other labels must be maintained that explain first aid procedures and safety instructions.
Often agricultural producers will assemble a string of implements and trailers when moving machinery from field to field. The complete assembly cannot be longer than 75 feet when nurse tanks are involved, Maher says. Long strings of implements occasionally swerve from side to side while moving down the road.
"If the nurse tank is bringing up the rear, it will swerve the most. It is extremely dangerous for everyone involved when there is a nurse tank weaving from side to side on any road," Maher says.
Every nurse tank should receive a safety inspection before you leave the bulk filling facility with it. Be sure it has all the safety equipment, including; goggles, gloves, and five gallons of clean water. "Those items are necessary for your safety. Your life may depend on them being there and being in good condition," Maher says.
Source: George Maher, (701) 231-8288