Saturday, August 6, 2011

DHS Announces Proposed Plans to Launch an Ammonium Nitrate Security Program

On Aug. 2, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register for the creation of the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program. It is part of the effort to secure potentially dangerous chemicals and ensure those chemicals are not misused by those who could cause harm.
Ammonium nitrate is typically used in a variety of industrial and agricultural applications, including its use in fertilizers, first aid products and regulated commercial explosives used in the construction and mining industries. However, is has also been used in devastating terrorist bombings including the Oklahoma City bombing, the London bombings and other acts of terrorism around the world.

The Aug. 2 proposed program will increase security by working with purchasers to validate legitimate use and require those selling ammonium nitrate to keep records and report theft or loss of the substance to federal authorities within 24 hours of discovery. In addition, DHS will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the proposed standards.

Despite the increased regulation, DHS collaborated with Congress, federal, state and local partners, and members of the industry and public to create a program to monitor the safe use of ammonium nitrate, while decreasing the burden on those using the substance for legitimate reasons.

"Creating the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program is a critical step forward in our continued efforts to ensure the security of potentially dangerous amounts of ammonium nitrate, while still facilitating legitimate everyday use," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The proposed program builds upon other DHS efforts to discourage misuse of ammonium nitrate. The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program, the Bomb Making Awareness Program and the Voluntary Chemical Assessment Tool all contribute to ensure that dangerous chemicals do not fall into the wrong hands.

In addition, DHS has collaborated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to cosponsor the "America's Security Begins with You" Program, which encourages suppliers of ammonium nitrate to report all suspicious activity to law enforcement.