Thursday, 24 October 2013

New regulations on ammonium nitrate

Marking out the dangers

New regulations on marking ammonium nitrate mixture sites have been introduced. Under the Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites or NAMOS) Regulations it will become a requirement to inform the local enforcing authority for health and safety (either the HSE or local authority) and the fire and rescue service (FRS) of any site with over 25 tonnes or more of the dangerous substance.

There is a further requirement for the FRS to be informed if the site holds more than 150 tonnes. Relevant ammonium nitrate fixtures are defined as when the nitrogen content exceeds 15.75% of the weight of any mixture.

The use of ammonium nitrate fertiliser is considered safe when stored properly, but can explode at high temperatures and when it reacts with other substances. There have been a number of high-profile disasters involving ammonium nitrate including in West Texas in April this year when an explosion killed 15 people there. The West Fertilizer Company had stored 270 tonnes of mixture on site.

The HSE has a self-help checklist for the storage and handling of ammonium nitrate fertiliser that requires checking to see if the building it is stored in is combustible, contains other flammable liquids or combustible materials such as straw or hay. Are housekeeping standards up to date? Act now if you have concerns and want to be sure your name is not on the list of those killed in the agricultural industry as one thing is for sure, this government doesn’t care either way. 

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