Pubdate: Thu, 27 Jan 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: Owen Covington
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Chemical Additive Tints Anhydrous Pink

Local law enforcement is hoping a new additive for anhydrous ammonia, a 
common farm fertilizer used in methamphetamine production, will put a dent 
in its theft throughout the region.

Next month, the local Royster-Clark supply store on U.S. 431 in Utica will 
begin adding GloTell to the anhydrous ammonia it sells to area farmers. The 
additive, patented by Royster-Clark, causes most objects that come in 
contact with the fertilizer or its vapors to be stained bright pink.

"All of our friends at Royster-Clark are to be applauded for identifying 
the need and developing the product," said Daviess County Sheriff Keith 
Cain. "Any steps we can take to limit the theft of anhydrous, and in turn 
the production of meth, we feel are positive."

The fertilizer is often stolen from large tanks in fields and at farm 
supply stores using homemade tapping mechanisms and a variety of 
containers. The process of stealing the fertilizer can expose thieves to 
the fertilizer or its vapors, which with the additive will turn skin and 
clothes bright pink for 48 hours.

The concentration of the methamphetamine produced using the treated 
anhydrous ammonia is lowered, which is a further deterrent, Cain said.

Tim Ellis, manager of the local Royster-Clark store, said he approached his 
supervisors about beginning to place the additive in all the anhydrous 
ammonia his store sells as a way to confront the methamphetamine problem in 
western Kentucky.

"This is kind of something new to all of us in the industry," Ellis said. 
"We want to do whatever it takes to stop theft."

The additive costs about a dollar more per acre fertilized, Ellis said. The 
store is planning to remain competitive in its anhydrous ammonia prices and 
not pass it along to the farmer, Ellis said.

"If it turns into a situation where farmers won't pay a bit more, we'll eat 
the cost to stay competitive," Ellis said. "It will pay for itself. I'm 
confident it will."

Tanks with the additive will be labeled as such, which Ellis said should 
act as a theft deterrent. The decrease in thefts should more than offset 
any increase in cost from the additive, Ellis said.

"(Farmers) can leave that tank anywhere they want, and they won't be 
touched," Ellis said. "The farmers I've talked to really are for it."

Protective gear will keep those handling the fertilizer legally from being 
stained by the additive, Ellis said. The additive does not affect the 
fertilizer's usefulness, and the coloring will also help farmers detect 
leaks in tanks, he added.

The additive is also available to other anhydrous ammonia distributors, 
even though Royster-Clark owns the patent, Ellis said.

"I'm hoping people will follow suit," he said.

Lt. Jeff Jones with the sheriff's department said there have been at least 
25 arrests on anhydrous ammonia thefts each year by his department in 
recent years.

Cain said this is just one more step the community can take to help combat 
the methamphetamine problem.

"It's the type of support we in law enforcement need to get a handle on 
meth," Cain said.
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