Fertiliser security must be taken seriously

25 October 2013

Following yesterday's Waco Texas fertiliser plant blast, emergency services officials have said ammonia may have caused the explosion. It has been reported the company had 20 tonnes of anhydrous ammonia on site.

Recently, a Counter Terrorist Security Advisor from Hampshire Police visited the CLA South East office and talked us through the security risks of Ammonium Nitrate. He emphasised the highly explosive capacity of Ammonium Nitrate which in the wrong hands can cause extensive damage to buildings and life within a 50m radius as demonstrated numerous times by terrorists in cities across the UK. Even in the rights hands it can still cause considerable harm if exposed to extreme heat or friction.

No other potential bomb-making ingredient is so readily available nationwide, so poorly protected, or so easy to ignite - and is probably on your farm right now! Anyone who handles or stores fertiliser should consider its' security preventing it from falling into the wrong hands.

So as a farmer or grower what can you do?

As empathised above, regardless of how much fertiliser you store, it is important that you consider measures to prevent it from being acquired and misused by criminals, or ignited.

The Police fully accept that all farm operations and premises vary throughout the country and there is no one size fits all answer. However, responsible farmers or growers can follow the National Counter Terrorist Security Office approved Ten Point Plan to protect their fertiliser. This ten point plan now forms part of 'Farm Assured' protocols.

Ten Point Plan for Fertiliser Security:

• Do not store fertiliser where there is public access
• Do not leave bags of fertiliser in the field overnight
• Do not store fertiliser near to, or visible from, the public highway
• Do not sell fertiliser unless the purchaser is personally known by you to be a bona-fide farmer user and is aware of the need to follow this guidance. (Be aware of the requirement to provide a copy of the detonation resistance certificate if you sell or supply relevant ammonium nitrate based fertiliser.)

• Do record fertiliser deliveries and usage
• Do, wherever possible, and with regard to HSE safety guidance, store fertiliser inside a locked building or compound
• Do fully sheet fertiliser when stored outside and regularly check to ensure that the stack has not been tampered with.
• Do carry out regular, frequent stock checks
• Do report immediately any unexplained stock discrepancy or loss/theft to the police
• Do record any manufacturers code numbers from the bags and if available, the number of the detonation resistance test certificate. (NB: Detonation resistance test certificates do not apply in Northern Ireland.)

For practical and cost effective advice regarding the security of fertilisers, visit the easy to navigate website: www.secureyourfertiliser.gov.uk