The introduction of the Explosives Act of 2003 is expected to align South Africa’s explosives regulations with global best practices when it replaces the inadequate Explosives Act of 1956 and the 1972 Explosives Regulations next year or, at the latest, in 2013.
However, the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) Chief Inspector of Explosives (CIE) representative, Lieutenant Colonel Jurie van Staden, points out that, although the Act was assented to by former President Thabo Mbeki, in 2003, and the 2010 Explosives Regulations were finalised last year, it can only be implemented once the required systems are in place.
Currently, the SAPS Explosives Control Section is still working on its plan to facilitate the successful implementation of the new legislation.
“We hope to have the required systems completed in the next year or two,” Van Staden notes.
The plan involves the national upgrad- ing of the SAPS computer network, equipment and programs, as well as the training of personnel and the provision of information to the explosives industry through the Internet.
The amended Act requires explosives to adhere to United Nations (UN) and South African Bureau of Standards regulations in terms of classification, marking, transport and packaging.
“The current 1972 Explosives Regulations are outdated, owing to inadequate penalties, a classification system that is inconsistent with the standards of the international community and the failure to regulate pyrotechnicians, black powder users, model rocket hobbyists and on-site manufacturing of explosives,” Van Staden explains.
Authorisation and Transport
Among the revised aspects of the new Act is the need for importers and sup- pliers to obtain authorisation for explosives before these are sold to end-users.
The process entails the authorisation of all explosives by the CIE, based on UN and international criteria, which requires that explosives shipments be properly named, have UN classification and packaging, and performance and compliance testing certificates.
However, users, manufacturers, importers, exporters, suppliers, transporters and brokers must first be authorised as legal entities by the CIE before any licence, permit, certificate or authorisation of explosives may be issued.
Each legal entity is obligated to appoint a responsible person or persons to be responsible for any actions regarding explosives, such as applying for permits, record keeping and ensuring explosives safety and security.
Further, Chapter 4 of the new regulations compels explosives to be packed, marked and labelled in accordance with SANS 10228: The identification and classification of dangerous goods for transport; SANS 10229: Transport of dangerous goods – packaging and large packaging for road and rail transport; and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code and the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.
In Chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the new regulations, provision is made for all modes of transport, with all vehicles transporting explosives on public roads needing to be licensed by the CIE.
“Transport, import, export or transit permits must be applied for when explo- sives are being moved between suppliers, explosives storage magazines and workplaces,” Van Staden asserts.
Chapter 2 of the new regulations deals with the manufacturing of ammonium nitrate blasting agents or emulsion explosives at blasting sites.
The regulations require the mixing equipment to be licensed by the CIE, while the application for a manufacturing permit must include documents that cover risk assessment, the physical loca- tion of the manufacturing site and a description of the substances used in the manufacturing process.
Regulations affecting the licensing and construction of explosives magazines are covered in Chapter 8 of the Act.
General requirements include fencing, lightning protection and drainage.
“An application for permission to construct an explosives storage magazine, including the provision for certain scales for the magazine plans and safety dis- tances, must be submitted to the CIE,” Van Staden points out.
All companies that handle explosives, including importers, exporters, manufacturers and users, must appoint maga- zine masters to take full responsibility for the secure storage of explosives, as well as stock control.
The legislation also enforces a range of penalties commensurate with the seriousness of offences.
Chapter 21 of the new regulations states entities will be penalised for failure to comply with any provision or conditions of a licence, permit, authorisation, written permission, certificate or requirement of a notice issued or granted.
There will be a minimum fine of R1 000 for each day an entity fails to comply; however, Van Staden says, this fine will only be imposed after the deadline for compliance has passed. Fines can amount to a maximum of R60 000, if the entity is convicted in a magistrate’s court, or R300 000 if judg- ment is passed in a regional court.
Extreme contraventions of the explo- sives legislation are punishable with imprisonment of between three and five years.
However, the Act enables individuals who have been convicted and are not satisfied with the decision of an inspector to appeal in writing to the CIE within 14 days of the decision.
“A person who is not satisfied with the decision of the CIE may appeal to an appeal board within 30 days of the decision,” Van Staden adds.
He believes that the stricter system will improve explosives control and safety in South Africa, as “the new Act and regulations will assist the local explosives industry in achieving overall higher standards”.
Van Staden was one of the speakers at BME’s nineteenth annual explosives conference in November.