Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Explosives used in construction

Explosives used on site for construction blasting

What you must do

Storage of explosives

For safety and security reasons, there are specific legal requirements and approved codes of practice relating to the storage of explosives. For further information contact your local council, or in Northern Ireland the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the police.

Health and Safety Executive: Enforcement of regulations on the storage of explosives - advisory guidance for local authority, fire service and police staff

HSENI: Manufacture and storage of explosives in Northern Ireland, page 55 (Adobe PDF - 1.69MB)

Ammonium nitrate fuel oil

Ammonium nitrate will dissolve on contact with water. Store it in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and keep it dry and away from surface water drains and watercourses.

Ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) mixed on site should be used as soon as possible after mixing. If ANFO is left to stand the fuel oil and ammonium nitrate can separate, causing both safety and environmental problems. The fuel oil can pollute groundwater as it leaches from the mixture. It is therefore important to consider the risk of groundwater pollution before using ANFO within waterlogged drill holes.

If you pollute groundwater, your environmental regulator can serve you with an 'anti pollution works notice'. This will require you to undertake works or operations to clean up the pollution that you have caused.

Noise from explosions

Notify your local council Environmental Health Officer of your works and give them contact details for your site, so that they can deal with any complaints from the public quickly.

Advertise the times at which blasting will take place. You can do this at your site entrance, other access points and well used public areas, for example, the local post office or pub.

Use flags or portable notices to warn the public of an imminent blast.

Produce and maintain a list of names and addresses of local residents that are to be warned before blasting takes place. Document how they are to be contacted and by whom.

Place sentries at specified locations to warn the public that blasting is taking place. Ensure that all necessary safety precautions are in place to prevent access to your site or provide a diversion route, for example, if a footpath runs along the site boundary or through the site.

Noise, odour and other nuisances

Disposal of explosive waste

You must not dispose of explosive wastes at hazardous waste landfill sites.


Further information

Health and Safety Executive

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland


SEE ALSO: Considerate constructors scheme

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