ANFO (ammonium nitrate fuel oil) explosives have been used several times in terrorist-related instances. Last week, in New York City, there was a car filled with dangerous items, and the response was in my meaningless opinion (having been there) something to be desired.
The brothers arrived first due with engine fifty-four and truck-four, and a confab was had, with the decision being not to use water on the car. Nor to flood the interior of the car with carbon dioxide. Halon, the most effective firefighting agent in the world, should have been available, but we banned it at the worldwide global warming conference in Montreal. This was an excellent example of side-ways thinking, and the ideas were duly approved by the Fire Commissioner, the Police Commissioner and the Billionaire Mayor, who took time out from his campaign to eliminate girl scout cookies from the school system to devote a few comments to "explosives".
"In this was critical evidence was preserved," said the Mayor, munching on a celery stick.
At the scene were many sight-seers, including members of the emergency medical services who wandered around in clown outfits with rig positioned where it had no business to be, nor they to be. Sight-seers galore, from the police to the fireman, to......
There were no ballistic screens available, despite the fact the United States Army had had them in the inventory for forty years. These were originally ballistic nylon, later kevlar, and are used to hang around artillery rounds to prevent sympathetic detonation in the event of incoming. How many billions did New York spend to contract with "terrorism consultants"?
There were propane tanks in the vehicle, but everyone assumed they were propane. Hmmm. Used propane canisters are ideal as pressure containers for a variety of biological or chemical agents. Gas masks? Hmmm.
The brothers didn't even have on their Scotts. Too hot and all that.
And, of course in hot weather the police department authorizes short-sleeved shirts. The fireman had on short- pants. And short-sleeved shirts.
A common ingredient in these type of terrorist IED's is high-grade ammonium nitrate, common in the United Statesm but restricted in the U.K. This is well-mixed 96:4 with fuel oil and then a detonator is required. I was hesitate to mention this, buit there are probably three people in the worldn involved in the fiweld who don't know this.
I have used these explosives and there are always probems. They are a bear to detonate. They require high explosives, preferably PETN, and lots of it. Secondly ammonium nitrate explosives are hygroscopic. They attract moisture. And the more moisture, the more difficult it is to explode them. DuPont sells so-called "prilled" ANFO, which is made by drying the amonium nitrate and pelletizing it and coating the pellets with a water resistant substance. If I mix ANFO to blow up stumps (it has a slow detonating velocity idea for earth-moving) every hour it sits reduces the chance of it detonating.
Thus, we come to the first rule in de-activating ANFO.
Flood the explosive with water, as in H20. The more water the better. The sooner the better.
The moisture will seep through the explosive mixture and as this happens (very rapidly) even if there is an explosion. the shock wave will not detonate all the ANFO.
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