Three agencies in the United States have issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN) storage, handling and management.
The advisory provides lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners and first responders from recent incidents, including the explosion in West, Texas, involving AN in order to prevent similar incidents.
The advisory was issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“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.”??
Ammonium nitrate can be very dangerous, and it’s imperative that employers, workers and first responders all understand the hazards, said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labour for Occupational Safety and Health. ??The advisory takes steps now to reduce the risks associated with AN to workers, first responders and communities.
It is part of an ongoing co-ordinated federal government effort to improve chemical safety with regards to AN and includes information on ensuring proper building design, storage containers and fire protection at their locations; learning from other accidents; and knowing and understanding the hazards that exist when developing their emergency response plans.
??Earlier this month, President Obama directed the federal government to improve operational co-ordination with state and local partners; enhance federal agency co-ordination and information sharing; modernize policies, regulations and standards; and work with stakeholders to identify best practices to improve chemical safety.
President Obama established the Chemical Facility Safety and Security Working Group. To this end, this advisory was developed by working group members and was facilitated by the working group process.