US proposes ammonium nitrate regulations

2011-08-02 20:35

Washington - More than 15 years after a fertiliser bomb was used to blow up a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, the federal government is proposing to regulate the sale and transfer of the chemical ammonium nitrate.

The proposal comes nearly four years after Congress gave the homeland security department the authority to develop a program to regulate the compound.

Ammonium nitrate is one of the most common farm fertilisers in the world, and instructions for turning it into a bomb are available on the internet. Its deadly potential was once again realised on July 22, when a Norwegian man allegedly blew up a government building in his country, killing eight people with a bomb that investigators believe was made with ammonium nitrate.

On Tuesday, the homeland security department's proposal is expected to be posted on the federal register website and the public will have 120 days to comment.

Register for screening

As it's proposed, the "Ammonium Nitrate Security Programme" would require those who purchase, sell or transfer at least 11kg of the chemical in the US to register with the government so that they may be screened against US terror watch lists, according to a homeland security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not formally been published.

Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh used 1 800kg of ammonium nitrate to blow up the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The homeland security department would give registration numbers to those who are approved to buy, sell or transfer ammonium nitrate. The registrants would also be required to keep records and report the theft or loss of the chemical within 24 hours of discovering it missing.

A number of countries, including Germany, Colombia, Ireland, the Philippines and China, have banned ammonium nitrate fertiliser. And some US states started to regulate its use after the chemical was used in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Last year, the Afghan government banned ammonium nitrate, as the chemical most often used in bombs targeting American soldiers in Afghanistan. Such "fertiliser bombs" have also been used in Iraq in attacks against government security forces.

In late 2007, Congress passed a law requiring the department to develop a regulation programme. The department missed its 2008 deadline to publish a final rule, and instead that year, it posted an advance notice in the federal register that it would eventually post a proposal for regulating ammonium nitrate.

The public had 120 days to comment then, as well. Among the concerns was that farmers who use fertiliser with ammonium nitrate don't have the computers or computer skills to adhere to the federal government's reporting requirements.

Existing regulations

In a September 2010 letter to the top Republican on the house homeland security committee, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said the department held "listening sessions" with stakeholders and created a government task force for input into the regulation.

The department already requires that businesses storing certain dangerous or combustible chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, provide regular reports on the security of those materials. But those regulations are centred on the security of the facility and not the sale and transfers of the chemical.

The bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives already regulates explosive mixtures that include ammonium nitrate. The homeland security proposal is designed not to duplicate other federal efforts, the homeland security official said.

Reporting programme

After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, ATF partnered with the industry group, The Fertiliser Institute, and other members of the agriculture industry to launch a voluntary reporting program for people to report suspicious activities, including thefts of ammonium nitrate.

Studies were done to see whether the explosive properties of ammonium nitrate could be made inert, said Kathy Mathers, spokesperson for the Fertiliser Institute.

That was not possible, she said, and over the years it became clear that there needed to be a formal regulating program.

"At this point, it's necessary," Mathers said of the proposed regulation. "We're lined up with Congress and DHS on this one".

- AP

Read more on:    us  |  us terror threat
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.