Focus Area: Emerging Explosive Threats
Description: As part of its ongoing security strategy, the Transportation Security Administration Freight Rail Security Division identified the security of ammonium nitrate (AN), transported in bulk, as a potential vulnerability in the freight rail network. An analysis was conducted on AN in transportation configuration by rail and by highway motor vehicles, to see if it can be weaponized to cause a large-scale full or partial detonation with catastrophic damage in a densely populated area. This investigation consisted of an analysis of existing literature published by members of the explosives industry, fertilizer industry, U.S. government agencies, and interested international governmental agencies. The project brought together subject matter experts from government and industry to determine the detonation characteristics of AN and to facilitate broad consensus among stakeholders, especially in regard to literature discrepancies. A gap analysis was also conducted, which addressed missing data points that are not present in current literature with respect to the detonability of bulk AN in transport. This effort addressed ammonium nitrate prill exclusively and did not include ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO) mixtures or other ammonium nitrate products that have been modified to increase detonability.
Project Cost: $270K
Project Duration: 24 months
Operational Impact: Based on its evaluation(s) of available literature, this report shall address, with respect to this project, the completeness and relevancy of the studies and tests. This report shall also address their applicability regarding the detonability/non-detonability of FGAN, i.e., if one can conclude there is sufficient evidence available for Freight Rail to determine that FGAN transported in bulk can or cannot be made to detonate with large-scale consequences.
Deliverable: Final report
End Users: International homemade explosives community and Transportation Security Administration
Transition: Final reports shared with the international homemade explosives community