The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), issued an Ammonium Nitrate Hazard Advisory on August 30, 2013.
The advisory comes on the heels of the April explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer plant and the federal government's responsive executive order on "Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security." President Obama assembled the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group. The current advisory was developed by this working group.
According to the advisory, millions of tons of ammonium nitrate (AN) are produced in the U.S. each year. Although AN-associated accidents are rare, the consequences can be devastating--as demonstrated in the Texas incident. A study of similar accidents on record indicate that explosions of stored AN play culprit to some of the worst chemical disasters in the world.
Part of ongoing measures to improve AN safety, the advisory provides information on ensuring proper building design, storage containers, and fire protection; lessons from previous accidents; and guidance for the development of emergency response plans. It's overall purpose is to reduce the risks associated with AN to workers, first responders, and surrounding communities.
The advisory is not an exhaustive guide for all aspects and risks associated with manufacturing, handling, storage, and transportation of AN. Nor is it inclusive of all forms and uses of AN. The advisory focuses on the handling and storage of higher density, solid ammonium nitrate pellets and prills (small beads), found in fertilizer. The advisory is not to be used as a resource for those handling liquid fertilizer, explosives and blasting agents that contain AN, or for the transportation of AN.
The advisory may be accessed in full at this link.
Contact us if you need guidance about the new advisory's impact on your business. Our highly skilled experts can help you assess current practices and plan for improved safety and security.