Restricting access to chemicals for homemade bombs

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

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

There are over 400,000 chemical-based products on the market, which are used by some 570,000 workplaces and millions of Australian consumers. While the vast majority of these products have legitimate uses, in the wrong hands, some products can be used to make homemade chemical weapons.

A statement from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, released this month, cited the fact that the bomb detonated in Oslo on 22 July last year was composed of common chemicals including fertilizer, nitro-methane and aluminium.

Australia’s National Terrorism public alert remains at ‘medium’, which means authorities believe a terrorist attack could occur, the Attorney-General’s Department statement noted.

A draft Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) has recently been released, weighing up the costs and benefits of several policy options, including a targeted awareness campaign, codes of practice and supply-chain regulation.

The Government is now asking stakeholders to comment on the RIS.

In particular, views and comment are sought on issues such as cost, effectiveness and likely uptake of various measures.

These measures include:

  • employee and contractor checking,
  • inventory and consignment control,
  • security during transport and storage, and
  • point-of-sale procedures.

The Attorney-General’s Department stated its particular interest 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)

Comments and input received during the consultation process will inform the final decision on the RIS, including the recommended course of action.

To obtain a copy of the Consultation RIS and to find out how to make a submission, readers can refer to the AGD Chemical Security program website at www.chemicalsecurity.gov.au/RIS.

Image credit: The Global Times – ‘Fertiliser Fear’