Bill to Regulate Purchase of Ammonium Nitrate Signed By Governor

Possible bomb making material to be better regulated as to purchasers
September 1, 2005

A bill sponsored by Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Bill Magee (D-Nelson) to provide for better regulation of the purchase and tracking of ammonium nitrate has been signed by the Governor.

"It is truly sad when an individual takes an otherwise harmless product, like ammonium nitrate, that is meant to fertilize a farmer’s crops and instead turns it into a bomb meant to hurt and harm so many," Magee said.

Ammonium nitrate is a common chemical compound used in fertilizer, but is also the chemical of choice used to make fertilizer bombs as it has been linked to several terrorist plots and was used in the 1993 World Trade Center and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. Even given this there are still few if any federal regulations governing the sale of this volatile substance.

"The reality is that, for the most part, retailers selling ammonium nitrate generally know the people they are selling to and if they don’t then they make sure that it is going to be used as part of a legitimate purpose," Magee commented. "All this legislation does is to build on that and make sure that everyone is taking these precautions."

This bill directs the Office of Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture and Markets to better regulate the sale of ammonium nitrate by ensuring that retailers are registered with the state, that these retailers maintain a record of all sales that will include the name, address and phone number of any person purchasing the fertilizer and that all ammonium nitrate for sale at a retailer be secured to provide reasonable protection against vandalism, theft and other unauthorized access. Also, the purchaser of ammonium nitrate will also have to show some form of valid picture identification in order to purchase the product.

"This bill really cuts the fine line by making sure that the public is protected against the horrors that ammonium nitrate can cause when used as an explosive, while not placing an enormous burden on our farmers and retailers it is a good bill that I think will really make a difference," Magee concluded.

The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Michael A.L. Balboni (R-East Williston).