Approximately 60,000 lbs. of the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate, a chemical used to make fertilizer, and a component in explosives, like the ones used in the 1995 terror bombing in Oklahoma City at the Murrah Federal Building, has disappeared.
The 30 tons of ammonium nitrate was being shipped on April 12, from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to California, but when the train arrived at a rail stop two weeks later in the Mojave Desert, the car carrying the dangerous explosives was empty.
Are you kidding me!!!
A 30-ton shipment of chemical explosives went missing in California.
WHAT IS GOING ON??? pic.twitter.com/mW5cfZtrkj
— Graham Allen (@GrahamAllen_1) May 22, 2023
On May 10, Dyno Nobel reported the incident to the federal National Response Center or NRC.
The report indicates that the chemical substance was “released due to an unknown cause” and was discovered to be missing upon the rail car’s arrival in Saltdale, California.
According to KQRD – Dyno Nobel says it believes the material — transported in pellet form in a covered hopper car similar to those used to ship coal — fell from the car on the way to a rail siding (a short track connecting with the main track) called Saltdale about 30 miles from the town of Mojave in eastern Kern County.
“The railcar was sealed when it left the Cheyenne facility, and the seals were still intact when it arrived in Saltdale. The initial assessment is that a leak through the bottom gate on the railcar may have developed in transit,” the company said through a spokesperson.
A Federal Railroad Administration representative, though, says the investigation points to one of the hopper car gates not being properly closed.
Dyno Nobel says the trip lasted two weeks and included multiple stops. The company says it had “limited control” over the railcar as Union Pacific moved it through the country. It says the railcar is being transported back to Wyoming for inspection. And it says it hopes to understand how the shipment was lost and will work to prevent something similar from happening again.
The Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, Union Pacific, and Dyno Nobel are investigating the incident, according to their representatives.
On July 25, 2011, Homeland Security published a Privacy Impact Assessment on their so-called Ammonium Nitrate Security Program:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS or the Department), National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), is publishing this Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) to provide a comprehensive analysis of the proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program. The proposed Ammonium Nitrate Security Program seeks to prevent the misappropriation or use of ammonium nitrate in an act of terrorism by regulating the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate by ammonium nitrate facilities (AN Facilities).
The Department of Homeland Security sets forth provisions regarding (1) inspecting and auditing facility owner records to prevent the misappropriation of ammonium nitrate; and (2) timely reporting by individuals of the theft or unexplained loss of ammonium nitrate. Requires the relevant federal authorities to inform appropriate state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities of such theft or loss.