Ban on Selling Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizers Containing More Than 16 % of Nitrogen to the Private Sector.

Effective from Sunday 27 June the supply of ammonium nitrate fertilizers containing more than 16% of nitrogen to private buyers will be banned in the entire European Union. The reason for this measure was the observation of the European intelligence and security services that home-made explosives are the most commonly used weapons of terrorists. These substances are also used in criminal circuits and by experimenting young people, however. This EU measure concerning ammonium nitrate is in anticipation of an additional general EU regulation concerning high-risk chemicals for the production of home-made explosives.

To make it more difficult for terrorists to produce and use explosives, a European Action Plan to improve the protection against explosives is implemented. One of the actions in this action plan concerns the prevention of unauthorised access to the most hazardous substances (precursors) for the production of home-made explosives.

The most important substances for the production of home-made explosives have been identified in both the Netherlands and Europe. In addition, for each substance the entire process, from import and production to selling, has been examined for possible risks. It was then determined which measures would be effective and proportional to minimise those risks.

The measures and the list have been jointly developed by government experts and experts from the industry that produces, supplies or sells such substances. The umbrella organisations of the sector have also been involved, such as the Netherlands Chemical Industry Association (VNCI), the Association of Traders in Chemical Products (VHCP), the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers VNO-NCW, The Dutch Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB Nederland), the Netherlands Retail Trade Council, Agri Retail, and the Central Bureau of Chemists Companies.

For ammonium nitrate fertilizers the Dutch government and the umbrella organisations MMF (Mineral Fertilizers Federation) and VKP (Association of Fertilizer Producers) had already reached an agreement that provides for the controlled distribution of ammonium nitrate fertilizers and a centre for reporting suspicious matters. The European measure concerning ammonium nitrate and the expected general EU regulation will give these agreements a legal basis.

Companies or shops that observe (possible) suspicious matters can report this to the Homemade Explosives Information line: 040-2916000. Relevant companies have been and will be informed in detail about the substances concerned. In anticipation, voluntary arrangements have been made in the Netherlands concerning, for instance, hydrogen peroxide and nitro methane.

The purpose of the EU regulation is twofold: to bring the safety in all member states to the same level and to establish a European level playing field for the industry and retail concerned.

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