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Monday, June 12, 2006

Weldon calls for regulation of ammonium nitrate

From Keith Phucas:

In the wake of arrests in Canada of suspected terrorists plotting to make a bomb containing fertilizer, U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon, R-7th Dist., wrote a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert last week urging passage of a year-old bill that would regulate ammonium nitrate purchases.

Fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate is commonly used in soil for pastures and citrus groves, among other agricultural crops. The compound is also used as an explosive and has been mixed with substances such as TNT. Ammonium nitrate is used in solid-fuel rocket propellants, fireworks and to make nitrous oxide.

According to reports, the Muslim suspects arrested in Canada were trying to acquire as much as three tons of the chemical compound. One ton of ammonium nitrate was used in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 people.

House Resolution 3197, the Secure Handling of Ammonium Nitrate Act of 2005, was introduced by Weldon last July to keep tabs on fertilizer purchases. The bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to regulate the production, sale or distribution of ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers. Only those dealers registered with the government agency would be legally able to buy or sell the compound. Under the measure, dealers and buyers would be required to keep records of sales for at least three years. Homeland Security would monitor record keeping and fine violators up to $50,000 per violation.

The House Committee on Homeland Security unanimously voted to move the bill to the House floor for a vote. A similar measure was introduced in the Senate.