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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, according to a news item that appeared in a February newsletter issued by GRNW owner the Watco Cos. Inc.
In late 2007, NuChem Ltd. began moving carloads of dry urea into its Port of Central Ferry facility in eastern Washington. The shipper built a urea cooking house and GRNW constructed a rail spur and bottom dump conveyer system to serve 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 other products, such as ammonia, as a leading way to deliver nitrogen to crops.
GRNW expects the dry urea business to generate 500 carloads this year.