NSW: call for consultation on ammonium nitrate storage changes

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Tuesday, 11 October, 2022 - 12:00
Policy & legislation
New South Wales

SafeWork NSW has asked for input on new safety measures that are designed to strengthen the current regulation of ammonium nitrate storage.

Specifically, the regulator called for consultation on a proposal to introduce mandatory separation distances between ammonium nitrate facilities and surrounding infrastructure, to add an extra level of protection for communities and workers.

“NSW has a strong multi-agency regulatory regime for the storage of explosives and explosive precursors like ammonium nitrate,” said SafeWork NSW acting head, Andrew Gavrielatos.

“This proposal would strengthen that regime and raise NSW safety standards to the same level as other Australian states.

“Although there is unlikely to be an incident at an ammonium nitrate facility, international incidents such as the explosion in Beirut two years ago show that the consequences can be catastrophic when ammonium nitrate is stored too close to residential, industrial, and other public infrastructure.”

Under NSW legislation all storage of ammonium nitrate requires a licence from SafeWork NSW, and Gavrielatos said quantities of ammonium nitrate that exceed 2500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate or 5000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilisers also require a major hazard facility licence.

The proposal will apply to 17 current ammonium nitrate storage facilities regulated by SafeWork NSW, including eight major hazard facilities, and will include any new facilities regulated by SafeWork NSW.

“The purpose of this consultation is to give all stakeholders an opportunity to provide feedback and to identify any concerns,” said Gavrielatos.

“This is to ensure regulation of the storage of ammonium nitrate considers all relevant matters, including any economic and social impacts.”