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Calls For Submissions – Chemicals of Security Concern

Proposed measures to stop chemicals falling into the wrong hands: chance to have your say.

Industry and members of the community have until 30 March 2012 to comment on measures designed to reduce the risks of common chemicals getting into the wrong hands and being used to make homemade bombs.

There are literally tens of thousands of chemicals used daily in Australia for commercial and household purposes. There are over 400,000 chemical-based products on the market, which are used by some 570,000 workplaces and millions of Australian consumers.

The vast majority of these chemical products have important and legitimate uses. However, in the wrong hands, some chemicals can be used to make lethal weapons.

Terrorism remains a significant threat to Western societies, including Australia. While terrorists use a wide-range of weapons to pursue their objectives, the ease of availability of chemicals in Australia makes homemade explosives an ideal weapon.

In 2011, we saw the devastating effects of precursor chemicals when a homemade explosive device was detonated in Oslo, Norway, killing eight people and injuring 90. That bomb was created using chemical materials that are readily available in Australia, including fertilizer, nitromethane and aluminium.

So far Australia has been fortunate in not having experienced a direct terrorist attack on its own soil. However, it has still been impacted significantly through terrorism incidents worldwide, many of which involved chemical explosives.

Australia’s National Terrorism public alert remains at ‘medium’ which means authorities believe a terrorist attack could occur. This ongoing concern has driven governments and industry to work together to determine practical ways of minimising the risk of chemicals being misused by terrorists to make homemade explosives.

Part of this work is a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) that weighs up the costs and benefits of a number of different policy options, including a targeted awareness campaign, codes of practice and supply-chain regulation.

Stakeholders have an important opportunity to help shape government policy on this issue by commenting on the RIS. In particular, this is your chance to put forward your views and comment on issues, such as cost, effectiveness and likely uptake of a range of measures. These include: employee and contractor checking, inventory and consignment control, security during transport and storage, and point-of-sale procedures.

AGD is particularly interested in receiving input from businesses that manufacture, handle or use any products that contain the following chemicals:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
  • Ammonium perchlorate (NH4ClO4)
  • Sodium chlorate (NaClO3)
  • Sodium nitrate (NaNO3)
  • Nitric acid (HNO3)
  • Potassium nitrate (KNO3)
  • Potassium chlorate (KClO3)
  • Nitromethane (CH3NO2)
  • Sodium perchlorate (NaClO4)
  • Sodium azide (NaN3)
  • Potassium perchlorate (KClO4

To access a copy of the Consultation RIS and to find out how to make a submission, please refer to the AGD Chemical Security program website at www.chemicalsecurity.gov.au/RIS. For further information you can also contact AGD on (02) 6141 2925 or (02) 6141 3012.

 The public consultation period will commence on Friday 3 February and end on Friday 30 March 2012.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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