Ammonium Nitrate Response and Handling
September 16, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives issued an advisory on handling, management, and storage of solid ammonium nitrate (AN).
The 19-page document provides direction for community emergency planners, fire departments, and facility owners and operators when managing AN. Preventing an emergency is just as important as responding to or containing a fire or explosion, and all parties must communicate and be operating from the same plan if and when an event occurs.
The report offers very specific guidance for firefighters to determine if a fire involving AN should be fought or left to burn. It also lists considerations and tactics for fighting AN fires, such as using flooding quantities of water and what not to use as a retardant.
The EPA report states facility owners “have an obligation to ensure their community’s first responders are aware of the hazards associated with the AN.” Owners and operators are encouraged to reach out to emergency planners or Local Emergency Planning Committees in addition to the legal obligations to report the presence of certain hazardous materials.