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DynaSEALR X-series Overview Guide

Is Open Burning/Open Detonation of explosives obsolete?

February 14, 2018

By Harley Heaton, R&D Officer

In the US, the only hazardous material that is still allowed to be burned in the open for destruction on an industrial scale is explosives. Open Burning and Open Detonation operations are used to destroy excess, obsolete, or unserviceable munitions and energetic (i.e., explosive) materials. All other open burning of hazardous materials for destruction have been banned by the EPA. The reason for this is that in the past, open burning or detonation was the only safe way to dispose of these materials, and since they are hazardous reactive materials, they were the one exception under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that controls the destruction of hazardous waste.

Open burning and open detonation of explosive hazardous waste is, however, damaging to human health and the environment. Large amounts of dust (particulates), carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides are emitted whenever open burning or open detonation of explosives is performed[1]. In addition, the noise and shock waves transmitted through the earth can also cause damage (and is a nuisance to nearby residences). Finally, the ground in and around the open burning or detonation site is frequently contaminated with explosives, heavy metals and sometimes even untreated munitions, all of which can contribute to pollution of the site and eventually pollution of the groundwater[2].

Today that situation has changed. Dynasafe technology has been proven to be a safe, non-polluting alternative to open burning or open detonation. Utilizing Dynasafe equipment virtually any excess or abandoned military munition or munition constituent such as propellants and explosives can be safely treated in a Dynasafe Static Detonation Chamber (SDC).

Dynasafe units have a history of over 10 years of processing military munitions, explosives and propellants, safely and effectively. Our SDC units come in several sizes to accommodate various needs, and some can even be moved from site to site, so that disposal of unstable explosives can be accomplished without having to transport the unstable explosives over busy public roads and highways.

Tens of thousands of tons of munitions and explosives have been safely processed in SDCs worldwide and SDCs have processed virtually every munition type out there. The SDC has in every respect been demonstrated to be a safe and effective alternative to open burning or open detonation.

So now the question is, is open burning and open detonation obsolete? We think the answer is yes.

We think that open burning and open detonation of explosives needs to be eliminated, except in cases where moving an unstable explosive or explosive item is so dangerous that it cannot be disposed of otherwise (for example terrorist bombs or fuzed and fired unexploded ordnance). The use of open burning or open detonation of explosives in most cases is no longer justified, given the technology available on the market today.