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Georgia truck wreck spills explosive ammonium nitrate

A recent truck accidnet on I-20 about 45 miles west of Augusta, Georgia, involved a truck loaded with 24 tons of ammonium nitrate used both as an oxidyzing agent in explosives and as fertilizer, overturned and began leaking. Three people were reported injured.

Ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel is quite a volatile mix. If this spill occurred in a heavily populated area, and a spark was added, it could have had monumentally catastrophic consequences. Ammonium nitrate is a key component of military explosives such as the “daisy cutter” bomb. It was involved in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, as well as several accidental explosions in ports around the world over several generations.

Motor carriers hauling explosives must comply with strict “HazMat” shipping regulations and carry at least $5,000,000 liability insurance under 49 C.F.R.§ §387.303. “HazMat” truck drivers must clear security check by the Department of Homeland Security. However, agricultural ammonium nitrate is exempted from the Hazmat insurance requirements under 49 C.F.R.§ 387.301, even though it was agricultural ammonium nitrate that was used in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

Go figure.

The Shigley Law Firm in Atlanta focuses on interstate and intrastate motor carrier liability, including HazMat incidents.