Disposal of Surplus Explosives

Regulation 46 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Quarries) Regulations 2008 state that no person, other than an explosives supervisor, a shotfirer or trainee shotfirer, shall dispose of surplus explosives, detonators, accessories or packaging remaining following shotfiring operations at a quarry.

Any surplus explosive (including detonators) must be removed from the blast area before any attempt is made to fire the shot. The shotfirer must ensure that surplus explosives are not left unattended.

Surplus explosives should be returned to the explosives store or returned to the manufacturer/supplier.  However currently there are no permitted storage facilities at Quarry locations in the Republic of Ireland and it is often very expensive and logistically difficult to return explosives to the manufacturer/supplier so where this is not possible the explosives should be destroyed by the shotfirer in accordance with the manufacturers/supplier’s instructions and guidance.

Where surplus explosives are disposed of this is usually carried out by burning small quantities of explosives (max 2.5 Kg) on a fire of wood shavings and diesel oil ensuring that each pile is separated from the others such that a sympathetic initiation cannot occur. 

Detonators and PETN detonating cord must be disposed of in accordance with the Manufacturer’s instructions and not by burning.

Consideration should be made of the controls that could be implemented to mitigate the effects of not only any destruction activity where it is expected that noise will be generated but also those that have the potential to result in an explosion or other significant noise.

These could include:

  • Destroying explosives in the smallest unit quantity conducive to the control of the explosive risks such that the potential impulse of any blast effect is minimised
  • The use of blast mitigation systems.
  • Designing the disposal location such that the effects of any explosion are contained absorbed or deflected.
  • The application of exclusion zones.
  • The soundproofing of occupied buildings including those provided as refuges
  • The provision of suitable hearing protection to employees.

Where the only reasonably practicable disposal technique is one where the balance of risks are such that an explosion is to be expected it will be necessary to ensure that persons are located at distances that will prevent them being exposed to noise above the relevant action levels or to ensure that they are otherwise protected from the effects of noise.

Where such disposal activities take place on a routine basis it is expected that they would be subjected to routine noise monitoring.