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Rail News: Logistics

Great Northwest Railroad gets carload boost from dry urea

It took three years to set up — and required changes in the way fertilizer producers and suppliers provide their product to farmers to spur it — but the Great Northwest Railroad (GRNW) is moving carloads of dry urea. And the new traffic is boosting the short line's annual carloads, according to the February newsletter issued by GRNW owner the Watco Cos. Inc.

In fall, NuChem Ltd. began moving carloads of dry urea into its eastern Washington facility at the Port of Central Ferry. Last year, the shipper built a urea cooking house and GRNW constructed a rail spur and bottom dump conveyer system to service the facility. The spur was funded by the Port of Whitman County.

NuChem now rails hopper cars of dry urea pellets into the facility, where the pellets are unloaded and conveyed into the urea house, run through a melter and made into a liquid before being delivered to agriculture producers in eastern Washington and north central Idaho. Urea is beginning to supplant traditional products, such as ammonia, as a way to deliver nitrogen to crops.

GRNW officials expect the NuChem business to generate 500 carloads this year. Formerly known as Camas Prairie Railnet, the short line was purchased by Watco in 2004 and renamed the Great Northwest Railroad.

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More News from 2/25/2008