US Government report recognises contribution of FIAS to safe storage and handling of ammonium nitrate in UK

A United States Government report, produced in the aftermath of the West fertiliser incident in 2013 recognises how the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS) has contributed to safe storage and handling of ammonium nitrate in the UK.

‘Actions Needed to Improve Federal Oversight of Facilities with Ammonium Nitrate’ is published by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). While its focus is on US facilities, it also reviews how other nations have addressed the issue of fertiliser security and safety.

GAO officials interviewed UK officials and were told that FIAS, a voluntary scheme was encouraged and supported by UK government.

The report states:

‘Officials we interviewed in the UK told us that the government encourages and supports this industry initiative and that about 90 percent of facilities with ammonium nitrate in the UK, including those that have small quantities, are members of the voluntary program.87 A UK official said, in his opinion, one would expect facilities participating in this industry initiative to be more likely to be found in compliance by the government when it conducts its own inspections. Furthermore, government officials, industry representatives, and program administrators meet twice a year to discuss how the program is being implemented and monitored.’

Commenting on the report, Jo Gilbertson, Head of the Agricultural Industries Confederation’s Fertiliser Sector said: “Support from UK government and, particularly companies operating in the UK has created a robust scheme to deal with fertiliser security. That this US report acknowledges this is another example of the high regard FIAS is held internationally.

“By diligently adhering to high standards, many FIAS participants are now finding that they are benefitting from ‘earned recognition’ which introduces the prospect of an improved risk rating for their operations compared to non FIAS operators..”

In April 2013, about 30 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer detonated during a fire at a facility in West, Texas, killing at least 14 people and damaging nearby schools, homes, and a nursing home.

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