IME’s Request that Governors and Local Officials Consider Commercial Explosives Industry as Essential

03/25/2020

MEMORANDUM

TO: Governors and Local Officials
FROM: The Institute of Makers of Explosives
RE: Essential Operations and Workforce of the Commercial Explosives Industry
DATE: March 25, 2020

The Institute of Makers of Explosives (IME)1 supports all efforts of State and local governments to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus and our member companies are committed to complying with both mandatory and recommended actions to protect our workforce and our community. IME members have implemented recommended practices on social distancing, enhanced hygiene and teleworking and we are actively monitoring your announcements and advisories important to the health and well-being of our employees and their families.

In connection with this, we are aware that your State administration may be considering additional public emergency declarations imposing restrictions on certain commercial activities. We expect that such a declaration(s) would include designations for exempt “essential businesses.” In such an eventuality, it is critical that the manufacture, transportation, storage, and use of commercial explosives is designated "essential business." Commercial explosives are an indispensable key to ensuring the uninterrupted production of energy (coal, oil and gas), availability of raw materials in critical supply chains, and the maintenance of transportation and other infrastructure important to public safety and health.

On March 19, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued guidance to assist State, local, tribal and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical industries and workers during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives.2 In particular, the guidance includes workers necessary for the manufacture of materials and products needed for energy production and infrastructure, workers who are responsible for transportation and logistics, workers who manage hazardous materials, and workers needed to maintain the continuity of these manufacturing functions and associated supply chains of chemicals and raw materials. The commercial explosives industry fits squarely within these guidelines.

We recognize that during this ongoing crisis, the government’s primary focus should and will be the containment and mitigation of the coronavirus. A tangential but nevertheless pivotal component of that response, will, however, be ensuring a reliable energy and a supply of materials to hospitals and the emergency response community, all transportation modes, and essential chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Commercial explosives are fundamental to the production of the energy needed by these entities and the production of raw materials critical to the manufacturers’ supply chain. We urge you to ensure that any business cessation orders not inadvertently create shortages of needed raw materials by restricting the productivity of our industry.

Lastly, the safe and secure storage of existing inventories of commercial explosive materials is wholly dependent on our ability to continue operating. Specifically, Federal laws administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)3 require explosives licensees and permittees to ensure the security of their products – a mandate that would be impossible to comply with if explosives companies were to be deemed “non-essential.” IME and our member companies believe that the security of explosive materials is a national security priority at all times, but this is never truer than during times of national crisis.

We thank you for your consideration of this request and we are available to assist as necessary. We hope for the good health and safety of your government officials and all healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of this crisis.

1 Founded in 1913, IME Is the safety and security association of the commercial explosives industry. More information on IME and our best practices can be found at www.ime.org.
2 Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce .
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3 27 CFR 555.204 mandates the inspection of explosive storage magazines.