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DHS publishes ammonium nitrate security program notice of proposed rulemaking

published in McAfee & Taft RegLINC | November 1, 2011

By Vickie Buchanan

In 2008, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate by an ammonium nitrate facility … to prevent the misappropriation or use of ammonium nitrate in an act of terrorism.” Ammonium nitrate is a chemical manufactured in varying concentrations and is primarily used as a component part of agricultural fertilizer, in some first aid products (e.g., cold packs), and in explosives often used in the mining and construction industries. Ammonium nitrate was the primary explosive used by Timothy McVeigh in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

In October 2008, DHS issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking introducing the Ammonium Nitrate Security Program (ANSP). On August 3, 2011, DHS published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the ANSP. The ANSP is proposed with the goal of reducing the likelihood of a terrorist attack through the misuse of ammonium nitrate by:

  • Creating a registration program for purchasers and sellers of ammonium nitrate requiring purchasers and sellers to register with DHS and be evaluated against the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB). After clearance through the TSDB, purchasers and sellers will be issued a registration number which will be required to authorize participation in the purchase, sale or transfer of ammonium nitrate
  • Establishing procedures for reporting a theft or loss of ammonium nitrate
  • Requiring businesses to keep records of all ammonium nitrate transactions for two years, and authorizing DHS to conduct inspections of records to ensure compliance with the ANSP

DHS is conducting several public meetings to receive comments on the ANSP. In addition, written comments may be submitted to DHS by December 1, 2011. Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or mailed to the Docket Management Facility. All comments should reference docket number 2008-0076.