Archive for Wednesday, December 15, 2004

No action planned for TV broadcast

December 15, 2004

Bill McGraw is still stinging from a recent television news broadcast.

But on Monday, McGraw said he didn't plan to take legal action against the television station.

During a Dec. 1 KCTV-5 report, newscaster Dave Helling said his crew had purchased 12 40-pound bags of ammonium nitrate from McGraw Fertilizer.

Ammonium nitrate was one of the ingredients used in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

The ammonium nitrate used to make this bomb was purchased in Kansas. In the wake of that act of terrorism, Kansas laws changed. It is now illegal to sell packaged ammonium nitrate.

But what the broadcasters had actually purchased wasn't pure ammonium nitrate. It was 20-10-10 fertilizer -- a blend of ammonia nitrogen, potash and phosphate -- a common blend available at lawn and garden stores.

When McGraw, who is 80, saw the broadcast, he was devastated. He had assumed, he said, from the friendly tone of the Nov. 30 interview, that he'd see a positive story that mentioned his business or his lifelong career as a farmer.

Since the report aired, and later, after a Dec. 8 story in The Mirror, McGraw has received dozens of supportive phone calls, letters and e-mails.

"We've gotten calls from people we don't even know," McGraw said.

On Monday, the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association distributed a press release regarding the television broadcast.

Here's what KARA had to say about the explosive properties of the 20-10-10 fertilizer:

"The fertilizer blend sold to KCTV did include some ammonium nitrate, but only roughly 17 percent. Experts agree that anything less than a 70 percent blend of ammonium nitrate is not explosive. In fact, the fertilizer blend sold to KCTV is not even classified as a hazardous material by the U.S. Department of Transportation."

McGraw said many of the people who contacted him have urged him to take legal action against KCTV- 5.

"We've got some names of attorneys," McGraw said Monday. "But I don't know if I want to go through that right now. I'd like to just get the word out -- what the real story was."

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