Ammonium nitrate is a potentially explosive chemical used as a fertilizer and to produce explosives and blasting agents. While incidents involving ammonium nitrate are rare, they can be deadly.
"When dealing with a large quantity of ammonium nitrate, localized areas of high temperature may be sufficiently confined by the mass of material to initiate an explosion," the advisory says. "The explosion of a small quantity of ammonium nitrate in a confined space (e.g., a pipe) may act as a booster charge and initiate the explosion of larger quantities (e.g., in an associated vessel)."
The advisory, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, and OSHA, includes lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners, and first responders from recent incidents. It comes on the heels of President Obama's executive order on improving chemical facility safety and security.
The advisory is part of an ongoing effort by the government to improve chemical safety with regard to ammonium nitrate. It includes information on:
- Ensuring proper building design, storage containers, and fire protection at their locations. For example, the condition of storage and the materials collocated with the chemical while in storage are crucial to its safety and stability.
- Learning from other accidents.
- Knowing and understanding the hazards that exist when developing emergency response plans.
"Understanding and minimizing the hazards posed by solid ammonium nitrate used in fertilizers is a key component of this advisory," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "In addition, the community emergency planning and response information in this document provides a valuable tool that will help protect workers, first responders, and communities throughout the country."
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
October 28, 2013
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