Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ammonium Nitrate Diversion

There was an interesting series of news reports over the last two days out of Toronto, Canada about a possible diversion of ammonium nitrate, a commercial fertilizer with well known uses in the manufacture of improvised explosive devices. The Canadian police were concerned about the diversion of the 1625 kg (3575 lbs) of ammonium nitrate from a farm supply store. Canadian authorities were particularly concerned due to the upcoming G8/G20 summits. This was considered a diversion of the explosive component because the buyer misrepresented the purchase as being for a local grower. While the purchase had been made on May 26th it hadn’t been reported to local authorities by store employees until May 31st. The police went public with their investigation over a week later. Their investigation to that point hadn’t apparently resulted in actionable information. The public release of the information resulted in the purchaser contacting police and the ammonium nitrate fertilizer being recovered. Interestingly, a two year old Canadian law similar to what DHS is considering implementing here in the United States, requires that purchasers of ammonium nitrate to identify themselves. This purchaser did not do so, explaining that he was picking up the material for a local farmer. Authorities are still investigating the failure to follow those regulations. Here in the United States, because of the lack of action on the part of DHS to implement ammonium nitrate regulations as required by Congress, this case would probably never have been called to the attention of authorities. Since this wasn’t a terrorism related diversion, I suppose it doesn’t make any difference. No one ever really uses ammonium nitrate in a terrorist attack in this country…except in Oklahoma City and New York City.

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