Secretary Napolitano Announces Proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced the publication of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Federal Register for the creation of the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program—part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to secure potentially dangerous chemicals and ensure those chemicals do not fall into the hands of those who could cause harm.
“In today’s ever-evolving threat environment, we must continually reinforce the security of substances, such as ammonium nitrate, which can be used for legitimate purposes or exploited by terrorists,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Creating the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program is a critical step forward in our continued efforts to ensure the security of potentially dangerous amounts of ammonium nitrate, while still facilitating legitimate everyday use.”

Ammonium nitrate is primarily used in fertilizers, first aid products, and regulated commercial explosives in support of the construction and mining industries. However, it has also been used as a main component in powerful explosives for attacks including the Oklahoma City bombing, the London bombings, and other acts of terrorism around the world.

At the direction of Congress and in consultation with our federal, state and local partners, and with input from members of industry and the public, DHS has proposed the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program to regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate while decreasing the burden on those who purchase or transfer ammonium nitrate for legitimate uses.

The proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program will increase security by working with domestic purchasers to validate legitimate use. It would also require those selling ammonium nitrate to retain records and report theft or loss of ammonium nitrate to federal authorities within 24 hours of discovery. DHS will be responsible for ensuring compliance with these proposed standards to ensure public safety and support legitimate commerce.

In order to address the complexity of the potential regulated community under the law, DHS conducted a thorough examination of the impacts on various communities—including farmers, agricultural retailers and distributors, landscaping services, construction and mining companies, and others—prior to the Department’s promulgation of a final rule.

The proposed program builds on other DHS efforts already established to protect the nation from the potential misuse of ammonium nitrate. The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program regulates the security of high-risk chemical facilities while the Bomb Making Awareness Program and the Voluntary Chemical Assessment Tool (VCAT) help businesses identify suspicious purchases and support owners and operators to assess their facilities’ risk.

In cooperation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, DHS has also cosponsored the “America’s Security Begins With You” Program, which encourages ammonium nitrate suppliers to report suspicious activity. This complements the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, which provides vendors with the means to report suspicious transactions to law enforcement.
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