Updated 28 February 2014

Truck explosion: the law on explosives

A truck carrying blasting cartridges exploded on the NI after an accident, killing four policemen and a driver of a food truck. What is the law regarding the transport of explosives?

A truck carrying blasting cartridges exploded on the NI after an accident, killing four police officers and a driver of a food truck, which collided with the the truck carrying the explosives.

Three other police officers were seriously injured, as were three motorists. Read more here about the treatment of serious burn wounds.

Read more about this explosion in Limpopo here.

In South Africa, blasting cartridges are often used in mining operations. The manufacture, storage and transport , sale, importation and exportation of explosives are strictly controlled by law, specifically the Explosives Act 15 of 2003.

The definition of an explosive is as follows:

(a) a substance, or a mixture of substances, in a solid or liquid state, which is capable of producing an explosion;
(b) a pyrotechnic substance in a solid or liquid state, or a mixture of such substances, designed to produce an effect by heat, light, sound, gas or smoke, or a combination of these, as the result of non-detonative self-sustaining exothermic chemical reaction, including pyrotechnic substances which do not evolve gases;
(c) any article or device containing one or more substances contemplated in paragraph (a);
(d) any plastic explosive; or
(e) any other substance or article which the Minister may from time to time by notice in the Gazette declare to be an explosive;

The main regulations in this act are as follows:

  • Authorised explosives may only be manufactured in an explosives factory, unless the chief inspector of explosives has granted permission for manufacture elsewhere.

  • Any loss of explosives must be reported to the Chief Inspector within 24 hours

  • You can be imprisoned for 25 years if you contravene certain sections of the Explosives Act..

  • Storage facilities of explosives have to be authorised by an inspector.

  • The state may keep explosives for use in construction work, but written permission is needed for this.

  • If a tenant illegally stores explosives, the owner of the building will be held liable.

  • It is illegal to deal in explosives without the necessary permits.

  • There is a legal differentiation made between fireworks and explosives.

  • Plastic explosives need to be marked with a detection agent.

  • You need a permit issued by the authorities before you can detonate blasting material.

  • The chief inspector of explosives may revoke any licence granted if it is deemed that the holder thereof is no longer a suitable person to hold the licence.

Regulations regarding transport of exdplosives:

  • Any explosives must be clearly identified in the prescribed manner with legible and visible identification marks and must be packed in such packaging material as may be prescribed.

  • The minister can make regulations as to the transport and packing of explosives at individual places, and in ports and harbours and airports.

  • A permit is needed to transport explosives. This period can be fixed for a period of time and can be revoked by the relevant officer or officers.

  • The minister can make a special enquiry into the circumstances surrounding an explosion that has caused damage, endangered or injured anyone, or caused death.

  • It is an offence to handle explosives while you are intoxicated or under the influence of any substance.

  • Explosives need to be clearly marked by detection agents.

  • The driver of a vehicle transporting explosives may not leave the vehicle unattended, unless parked in a designated area.



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