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EPA, OSHA and ATF Provide Information and Lessons Learned About the Safe Storage, Handling and Management of Ammonium Nitrate

Release Date: 08/30/2013
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202.564.7873, 202-564.4355

WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN) storage, handling and management. This action supports the goals of President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.” 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.

“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 Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “With this understanding, together they can control these hazards and save lives and limbs.”

“ATF National Response Team works closely with other federal, state and local emergency personnel responding to incidents, to include ammonium nitrate explosions,” says Arthur Herbert, ATF Assistant Director for the Office of Enforcement Programs and Services. “ATF maintains an open dialogue with first responders of the possible hazards of ammonium nitrate and is committed to working towards development of best practices in collaboration with our federal partners, industry members and their association representatives.”

The advisory takes steps now to reduce the risks associated with AN to workers, first responders and communities. It is part of an ongoing coordinated 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 coordination with state and local partners; enhance federal agency coordination 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.

View the advisory and more information on EPA’s risk management program: http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/content/rmp/index.htm

View President Obama's Executive Order:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/08/01/executive-order-improving-chemical-facility-safety-and-security