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Safe Storage of Ammonium Nitrate-Discussion on Safety/ Separation Distances prescribed by Governments of some Country / State’s Regulations and other related aspects

Safe Storage of Ammonium Nitrate-Discussion on Safety/ Separation Distances prescribed by Governments of some Country / State’s Regulations and other related aspects

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Published by partha das sharma
Although nearly every country on Earth, including the US, UK, the whole of European Union, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Australia and Canada etc, have enacted laws to regulate the movement of dangerous goods that can harm humanity, it is virtually impossible to ban the commercial use, handling, storage and sale of a number of readily available chemical compounds like Ammonium Nitrate that are serving both mankind and the terrorists at the same time.
Although nearly every country on Earth, including the US, UK, the whole of European Union, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Australia and Canada etc, have enacted laws to regulate the movement of dangerous goods that can harm humanity, it is virtually impossible to ban the commercial use, handling, storage and sale of a number of readily available chemical compounds like Ammonium Nitrate that are serving both mankind and the terrorists at the same time.

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Published by: partha das sharma on Nov 03, 2011
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06/03/2014

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SAFE STORAGE OF AMMONIUM NITRATE
Discussion on Safety/ Separation Distancesprescribed by Governments of some Country / State’sRegulations and other related aspects
***
Partha Das Sharma, B.Tech(Hons.) in Mining Engineering;E.mail: sharmapd1@gmail.com;Website: http://miningandblasting.wordpress.com/
***1. Introduction -
Although nearly every country on Earth, including the US, UK, the whole of European Union, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Australia and Canada etc, have enacted laws toregulate the movement of dangerous goods that can harm humanity, it is virtually impossible to banthe commercial use, handling, storage and sale of a number of readily available chemical compoundslike Ammonium Nitrate that are serving both mankind and the terrorists at the same time.However, a few countries like Australia did take a giant leap forward to ban the use of AmmoniumNitrate fertilizer after the October 12, 2002 Bali Night Club bombings, which had claimed 202 livesand had left over 240 souls precariously injured.In Australia, the Dangerous Goods Regulations had also come into effect in August 2005 to enforcelicensing in dealing with such substances and licenses were only granted industries with appropriatesecurity measures in place to prevent any misuse. The Australian Dangerous Goods Code (Seventhedition in 2008) also complies with international standards of importation and exportation of dangerous goods in line with the UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods.Dangerous goods include materials that are radioactive, flammable, explosive, corrosive, oxidizing,asphyxiating, bio-hazardous and toxic.Ammonium Nitrate s chemical formula is NH4NO3. It is a chemical compound that is commonly usedin agriculture as a high-Nitrogen fertilizer. Farmers all over the planet like it more because it is easyto spread, it is shelf stable (as long as it is coated) and it gives crops the desired Nitrogen levels.On the other hand, terrorists are also regularly using this compound in the manufacture of explosives since World War II. (References: The government of Victoria (Australia) s awarenessbrochure Regulating the use of Ammonium Nitrate - Balancing Access & Protection and The hazardsand dangers of Ammonium Nitrate by Messrs Nortech Laboratories Incorporated, United States)
2. Properties and Hazards associated with Ammonium Nitrate -
Ammonium Nitrate (AN) isprimarily used as a fertilizer, but also used as a blasting agent when mixed with fuel oil (ANFO).Generally, the risk associated with the production, distribution and use of pure ammonium nitrate(AN) is low. However the hazardous properties of AN can give rise to a decomposition with releaseof toxic fumes or detonation as the worst case under very specific conditions.
 
SAFE STORAGE OF AMMONIUM NITRATE : Discussion on Safety/ Separation Distances prescribed byGovernments of some Country / State’s Regulations and other related aspects
Partha Das Sharma, B.Tech(Hons.) in Mining Engineering;E.mail: sharmapd1@gmail.com
 
; Weblog: http://miningandblasting.wordpress.com/ Page 2
Pure AN is a colourless, water soluble, crystalline substance. Pure ammonium nitrate melts at 170
o
Cand decomposes above 210
o
C producing copious clouds of toxic fumes (mainly oxides of nitrogen)that may be yellow or brown. Some fertiliser grades of AN have an increased susceptibility to slowburning (cigar burning) due to chloride in the formulation associated with potassium as an additive.The Explosive grade or Technical grade is a lower density prilled material designed to absorb fuel.Technical grade AN, supplied as a porous material in prilled form, have a density in range 700–800g/litre. Ammonium nitrate readily absorbs water and is very soluble (190 grams dissolve in 100grams of water at 20
o
C). AN sold for fertiliser is the same substance as AN sold for use as anexplosive.Whenever AN passes 32
o
C it undergoes a crystal change known as thermal cycling. It results in theprill breaking down, caking and becoming less useful as an explosive as it cannot absorb fuel.Prilled AN may start to decompose at lower temperatures than for pure AN due to chemicaladditives. Decomposition of AN takes place through several reactions:
 
In early stage sublimation to ammonia and nitric acid dominates.
 
At slightly higher temperature, nitrous oxide (N2O) is the main decomposition product.
 
Above 260 degrees C toxic nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) are formed in considerable amounts.Ammonium nitrate is an oxidising agent so it supplies oxygen to the fuel in a fire and supportsburning even when air is excluded. AN is classified as an oxidising agent Class 5.1 (UN No. 1942 fortechnical grade and UN No. 2067 for fertilizer grade). Being an oxidiser, AN will support the burningof organic matter. Technical grade AN is used extensively to support the “fast” burning required inexplosives.In a fire pools of hot molten ammonium nitrate may form and if confined (e.g in a drain) mayexplode. This is because hot and molten ammonium nitrate becomes very sensitive to shockparticularly if it contacts incompatible material. As the size of the AN stack increases or the densityof the product decreases, the vulnerability to detonation increases.Thus, Ammonium Nitrate has three main hazards (I) toxic decomposition products, (II) fire due tooxidising nature and (III) explosion.
International approaches to regulating Ammonium Nitrate
: In the matter of framing andimplementing Regulations on Ammonium Nitrate, Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) standis remarkable. COAG has developed principles regarding the use, manufacture, storage, transport,supply, import and export of security sensitive ammonium nitrate (SSAN). Various States andTerritories around Australia are currently working on adopting these principles through legislativechanges. The intent of these changes is to limit SSAN access to only those who are authorised to use,manufacture, store, transport, supply, import and export this material; thereby mitigating the risk of a significant terrorist event occurring in Australia.In the United States (US), about half of the 1.8 million tonnes of ammonium nitrate sold each year isused for fertiliser. However, only a few states have introduced regulations for controlling the sale of ammonium nitrate fertilisers. These regulations require retailers to be licensed, obtain valididentification from the buyer, keep transaction records and report any suspicious purchases.Retailers in other US states have adopted a voluntary security campaign, Be Aware America, wherethey report suspicious transactions involving ammonium nitrate.In 2007 and 2011, the Department of Homeland Security introduced national standards for chemical
 
SAFE STORAGE OF AMMONIUM NITRATE : Discussion on Safety/ Separation Distances prescribed byGovernments of some Country / State’s Regulations and other related aspects
Partha Das Sharma, B.Tech(Hons.) in Mining Engineering;E.mail: sharmapd1@gmail.com
 
; Weblog: http://miningandblasting.wordpress.com/ Page 3
3. Safe Storage and Handling of Ammonium Nitrate (AN)
-
 a. SAFE STORAGE
 – Whatever the quantity you store, the principles of good and safe storage isimportant to ensure that the quality is maintained right up to the point of use. Ammonium nitrate(AN) is readily soluble in water and has a crystal transition point of 32 degrees C. Both of theseproperties have influence on suitable storage conditions. It is desirable that storage temperatureshould be kept below 32 degrees C. It should be noted that if the product is cycled through 32degrees C several times the prill structure of the AN material will break down.• Nitrate is a pollutant in waterways and aquifers. Storage sites should be selected to ensure nocontamination of water, including that used in fire-fighting.• Locate storage away from sources of heat, fire or explosion.facilities of high risk. These standards, which are still being implemented, impose tight securitymeasures, with the certification of chemicals stores requiring the implementation of security plansand inventory management procedures.Canada is in the process of implementing regulations that are somewhere in between the voluntaryapproach and the COAG agreed principles. Under the Canadian regulations, retailers are required toobtain valid identification of farmers, such as a pesticides licence, and determine whether theamounts of ammonium nitrate fertiliser purchased are consistent with the farms’ needs. Theregulations also impose some requirements on the security arrangements for storage facilities andrecord keeping through the supply chain.Government of India have also in the process of implementing a regulation on ammonium nitrate,and for that purpose Draft - Ammonium Nitrate Rule, 2011 has been issued.The UK Government has taken a light-handed approach to regulation, even though it is one of thegreatest users of ammonium nitrate fertilisers in the world. Specifically, it has taken a layeredapproach to security of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, utilising regulation and industry partnerships toachieve security outcomes. It manufactures and imports about four million tonnes of ammoniumnitrate products per year. It restricts the types of ammonium nitrate fertilisers that can be sold —they must be certified as detonation resistant, and must satisfy other technical requirementspertaining to porosity and particle size. Further, farmers are provided with advice regardingappropriate storage and security measures for their ammonium nitrate fertilisers. The Governmentalso supports the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme, which is a voluntary scheme for businessesto improve ammonium nitrate fertiliser supply chain security.Indonesia, South Africa, Peru and Colombia have all banned the use of ammonium nitrate fertilisers.Other countries have imposed bans on the fertilisers based on their ammonium nitrate content. Forexample, China has banned the use of 100 per cent ammonium nitrate fertilisers, while in theRepublic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; fertilisers containing more than 79 per cent ammoniumnitrate are banned.The New Zealand Government has not introduced controls on ammonium nitrate fertilisers due tothe relatively low usage of the substance. However, the Government has introduced controls onother essential elements of an explosive device — such as detonators and primers — that can beused to set off an ammonium nitrate based explosion. Such controls are standard in almost all thecountries internationally.

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