Originally created 05/20/05

Plant's 24-ton cargo is missing

Richmond County sheriff's deputies are trying to figure out where more than 20 tons of fertilizer from an Augusta manufacturer has gone, officials said Thursday.

Sheriff's Investigator Robin Ashmore said the case involving about 24 tons of solid ammonium sulfate from DSM Chemicals is being treated as a theft.

According to the sheriff's office, a tractor-trailer from a company identified as Dollar Trucking Co., driven by a man listed as Floyd Mauldina, came to DSM on Columbia Nitrogen Road on Tuesday.

Lisa Kirby, a spokeswoman for DSM Chemicals in Augusta, said the driver was asked to sign a log sheet and provide his driver's license number and a pickup number.

During checkout, officials at DSM noticed that the order was due to be shipped out from DSM's warehouse in Greenville, Ohio. But the number was valid, so the trucker was allowed to leave the facility, Ms. Kirby said.

Officials at DSM became concerned about the discrepancies and called the sheriff's office.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's online records list five companies registered under the name Dollar Trucking.

Though at least one listing has a similarly named company registered in Wrightsville, Ga., Dollar Trucking is not registered under the Georgia Motor Trucking Association, according to Ed Crowell, of the association.

Unlike ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing, Ms. Kirby said ammonium sulfate by itself is not explosive. Sheriff's Capt. P.A. Williams, the head of the county's bomb squad, said mixing ammonium sulfate with any oil-based liquid makes it "subject to flame up."

But "it's not the sort of thing you would use for making bombs," said Dr. Stephanie Myers, an associate professor of chemistry at Augusta State University. "In and of itself, it's not dangerous.

"The only dastardly thing I can think of off the top of my head is to add base, make ammonia and then use the ammonia to make methamphetamines," she said.

Sheriff's Lt. C.A. Tony Walden said his agency notified the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

Homeland Security and FBI officials did not return repeated telephone calls.

Staff Writers Dena Levitz and Tom Corwin contributed to this article.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.


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