EXPLOSIVES SHIPMENTS IN LIMBO
A little noticed section of the bill that created the Department of Homeland Security last November has caught the explosives and trucking industries off guard, giving them little time to try and reverse key provisions that were supposed to go into affect Friday and threaten to shut down the shipment of explosives between the United States and Canada.
The biggest surprise for the industry groups, the government of Canada and even other U.S. agencies is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is for the first time asserting its jurisdiction over the transport of explosives, an area currently regulated under hazardous material shipping guidelines by the Department of Transportation.
Under the Safe Explosives Act, which Congress attached to the Homeland Security bill, most non-residents are now prohibited from possessing explosive materials unless they receive an exemption. ATF, according to documents posted on its Web site, has interpreted non-residents to include Canadian truck drivers who transport explosives-making materials and finished goods to and from manufacturing plants on both sides of the border.
The amount of explosives traded annually between the United States and Canada exceeds $300 million, according to trade data from the Canadian government, virtually all of it by truck. The ATF’s actions could effectively disrupt those shipments for several weeks until drivers can get special permits, harming companies that manufacture, transport and rely on explosives, industry officials said.