Fire brigade and LTO warn of very toxic gas that can be released during silage corn

BREDA – The fire brigade and the Agriculture and Horticulture Organization Netherlands (LTO) warn of a very toxic and corrosive gas that may be released during silage of maize. Farmers and fire brigades throughout the country have been informed about the dangers. Last Tuesday dangerous gas was released at a farm on the Kerzelseweg in Galder.

The brown gas is created when the corn is ensiled under plastic tarpaulin. The corn is harvested weeks earlier than usual because of the drought. As a result, there is much more nitrogen in the crop.

'Dangerous for humans and animals'
In addition to the usual carbon dioxide that is released during ensiling, so-called nitrous gases can also occur. "These are very poisonous and corrosive and can pose major risks for people and animals," explains Marcel Verspeek from the Fire Department Midden and West-Brabant.

In addition to Galder, the gas was recently released in Haaksbergen in Overijssel and in Leusden in the province of Utrecht. In Leusden cattle became unwell because of the released gas.

Stubborn gas
The LTO shows that the gases are generated quite quickly after silage of the maize. "In Galder, the pit was only one day old, the gas rises to about four and a half days after which the concentration decreases again, and after ten to fourteen days the nitrous gases are gone", explains Escher de Snoo of the LTO.

The fire brigade therefore installed two mobile measuring instruments in Galder. The air quality will be monitored in the coming days. If increased values ​​are measured, this is immediately passed on to the control room.

The corn silage in Galder was covered with sand. There are also two vent pipes installed to allow the vapor to escape from the pit.

Firefighters must always fight the vapor with air bottles. (Photo: Safety Region Utrecht)

Because of the three examples, the fire department decided to warn nationally about the dangerous corn fumes. "We immediately informed all colleagues about how to deal with such incidents, and also pointed out the dangers."

Heavy gas cloud
"Stay as far as possible upwind, even if the pit has to be vented." Also keep in mind that there is pressure build up under the foil. When opening the foil a strong gas cloud can be released ", explains Verspeek.

Furthermore, it is advised to open the pit at a distance by attaching a rope to the sail. The fire department can also use fans to protect stalls or homes against the gas.

The LTO is also worried about gas fumes and informed farmers about the dangers all over the country. In the message to farmers is to read that people and animals in the first two weeks after ensiling should not come near.

'See your gas call 112'
Furthermore, the organization strongly advises farmers that they should not vent their pit themselves if the sail is filled with gas. "This is life-threatening, if there are gases released from the pit near a house, stable or public road, call the fire department via 112."

Publication: Friday, August 24, 2018 – 12:15
Changed: Friday, August 24, 2018 – 16:40
Author: Marrie Meeuwsen

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