K Criteria for Ranking Common Explosive Chemicals

The Committee on Marking, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials developed a method to rank a committee-derived list of common explosive chemicals with a potential for use in criminal and terrorist bombs. This method takes into account four criteria, weighted as described below, with the corresponding numerical values for each chemical of interest shown in Table K.1.

  1. Availability and accessibility as an indicator combines production amounts of a particular chemical with the committee's assessment of the ability of potential bombers to make retail purchases of the material. For example, although a great deal of nitric acid is produced each year, approximately 80 percent is converted directly to other chemicals and never appears on the retail market.

  2. History of prior use in illegal explosives is a measure of a chemical's use in criminal bombings, based on the committee's assessment. A weighting factor of 3 is given for compounds that have been used significantly in prior bombing incidents (e.g., ammonium nitrate, nitric acid, and urea). A factor of 2 is used for compounds that have been used only a few times (e.g., sodium chlorate, hydrogen peroxide, potassium nitrate, nitromethane, and potassium chlorate). For those compounds that have not been used, a factor of 1 is assigned.

  3. Ease of use in bomb making is a measure of the degree of difficulty in preparing a bomb with a particular explosive chemical. For common solid chemicals, a factor of 1 is used. Liquid explosive chemicals and precursors are assigned a multiplication factor of 0.5, 0.2, or 0.1, taking into consideration the ease of



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OCR for page 352
Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors K Criteria for Ranking Common Explosive Chemicals The Committee on Marking, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials developed a method to rank a committee-derived list of common explosive chemicals with a potential for use in criminal and terrorist bombs. This method takes into account four criteria, weighted as described below, with the corresponding numerical values for each chemical of interest shown in Table K.1. Availability and accessibility as an indicator combines production amounts of a particular chemical with the committee's assessment of the ability of potential bombers to make retail purchases of the material. For example, although a great deal of nitric acid is produced each year, approximately 80 percent is converted directly to other chemicals and never appears on the retail market. History of prior use in illegal explosives is a measure of a chemical's use in criminal bombings, based on the committee's assessment. A weighting factor of 3 is given for compounds that have been used significantly in prior bombing incidents (e.g., ammonium nitrate, nitric acid, and urea). A factor of 2 is used for compounds that have been used only a few times (e.g., sodium chlorate, hydrogen peroxide, potassium nitrate, nitromethane, and potassium chlorate). For those compounds that have not been used, a factor of 1 is assigned. Ease of use in bomb making is a measure of the degree of difficulty in preparing a bomb with a particular explosive chemical. For common solid chemicals, a factor of 1 is used. Liquid explosive chemicals and precursors are assigned a multiplication factor of 0.5, 0.2, or 0.1, taking into consideration the ease of

OCR for page 352
Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors handling and packaging, the corrosiveness, and the knowledge, equipment, and skills needed in synthesizing explosives from precursor chemicals. Liquid explosive chemicals include nitrobenzene, sodium hypochlorite solution, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric acid. Cost is the purchase price of the explosive chemical, given as a price per pound when purchased in ton quantities. Urea has the lowest unit cost at $0.0903 per pound.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors TABLE K.1  Criteria and Values Assigned for Ranking Common Explosive Chemicals Chemical Availability and Accessibilitya History of Prior Useb Ease of Use in Bomb Makingc Cost (dollars per pound)d Ammonium nitrate 17,631 3 1 0.1010 Urea 16,051 3 0.2 0.0903 Nitric acid 18,597 3 0.1 0.1075 Sodium chlorate 1,408 2 1 0.2250 Calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate, calcium cyanamide, ammonium chloridee 2,003 1 1 0.3588 Sodium hypochlorite 564 1 0.5 0.1300 Calcium carbide 484 1 1 0.2530 Nitrobenzene 1,246 2 0.5 0.3395 Hydrogen peroxide 760 2 0.5 0.6846 Potassium nitrate 198 2 1 0.4440 Dinitrotoluene 1,300 1 1 3.2600 Calcium hypochlorite 132 1 1 1.0300 Potassium permanganate 46 1 1 1.2110 Potassium chlorate 4 2 1 0.1450 Active halogen-type biocides 178 1 0.2 1.3400 Nitroparaffinsf 90 2 0.5 2.7530 Sodium chlorite 11 1 1 1.3700 Potassium perchlorate 0.1 2 1 0.7500 Picric acid 1 1 1 104.0300 a Millions of pounds per year, based on reported U.S. annual production or production capacity—Active halogen-type biocides: Specialty Chemicals, Biocides, May 1996, SRI International. Ammonium nitrate: Donald Lauriente, Nitrogen Products, 756.9000B, CEH Marketing Research Report, SRI International, December 1993; Ammonium Nitrate, 1993 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Calcium carbide: Chris Barron with Thomas Schellenberg and Yosuke Ishikawa, Calcium Carbide, 724.5000C, CEH Data Summary, February 1995, 1995 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Calcium hypochlorite: Hypochlorite Bleaches, November 1995, 1996 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Dinitrotoluene: Air Products/BASF, April 29, 1997, <www.basf.com/new/air-dnt.html>. Hydrogen peroxide (100 percent): Extrapolated from 1991 to 1996 using the figure on p. 19 of Hydrogen Peroxide, June 1992, 1996 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Nitric acid (100 percent basis): Nitric Acid, Nitrogen Products, 757.8000D, July 1994, 1994 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Nitrobenzene: Chris Barron with Fredi P. Kalt and Yosuke Ishikawa, Nitrobenzene, 677.8000D, CEH Data Summary, August 1994, 1994 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Nitroparaffins: Angus Chemical Company, Buffalo Grove, Ill., quotation by phone, May 1997. Picric acid: Phenol, 686.5001E, April 1996, 1996 (Reagent Grade) Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Potassium chlorate: Sodium Chlorate (Crystal), March 1995, 1995 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Potassium nitrate: Based on 1995 production figure for the Vicksburg, Mississippi, plant of TRI, a subsidiary of Cedar Chemical Corporation. Potassium perchlorate: Based on annual quantity available from GFS Chemicals Inc., Powell, Ohio, June 13, 1997 (this value is likely to be below the U.S. production value). Potassium permanganate: Nonferrous Metals, 233.4000P, January 1997, 1997 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Sodium chlorate (Crystal): Sodium Chlorate, March 1995, 1995 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Sodium chlorite: Sodium Chlorite, March 1995, 1995 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Sodium hypochlorite: Hypochlorite Bleaches (12.5 percent), November 1995, 1996 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International. Sodium nitrate: Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 3rd Ed., 1990. Urea (agricultural grade): Donald Lauriente, Urea, Nitrogen Products, 758.8000Y, CEH Marketing Research Report, May 1995, 1995 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors b See explanation of the second criterion on the first page of this appendix. c See explanation of the third criterion on the first page of this appendix. d All purchase prices are in dollars per pound based on bulk quantities (ton or truck load) and are for technical-grade or commercial-grade chemicals except for picric acid, which is available only in reagent grade. Some prices may not be current, and some are extrapolated or were projected if pertinent data were available. From Chemical Marketing Reporter for the week ending April 25, 1997: calcium carbide, 0.253; calcium hypochlorite, 1.03; dinitrotoluene, 3.26; nitric acid (100 percent basis), 0.1075; nitrobenzene (crystal), 0.3395; potassium chlorate, 0.145; potassium permanganate, 1.211; sodium chlorate (crystal), 0.225; sodium nitrate, 0.3588; urea (agricultural grade), 0.0903. Active halogen-type biocides: 1.34, Specialty Chemicals, Biocides, May 1996, SRI International. Ammonium nitrate: 0.101 (average), fertilizer industry price quotation, April 30, 1997. Hydrogen peroxide (100 percent): 0.6846, extrapolated from 1991 to 1996 using a cost increase factor of 1.056 computed from purchase prices in 1986 (0.6429) and 1991 (0.6786) (Hydrogen Peroxide, 1996 Chemical Economics Handbook, SRI International). Nitroparaffins: 2.753, Angus Chemical Company, quotation by phone, May 1997. Picric acid (reagent grade): 104.03, Spectrum Chemical Company, quotation by phone, June 1997. Potassium nitrate: 0.444 (average of two prices—(1) 0.65, American International Chemical Inc., quotation by phone, June 1997 and (2) 0.238, Chilean Nitrate Corp., quotation by phone, June 1997). Potassium perchlorate: 0.75, Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia, 4th Ed. Sodium chlorite: 1.37, TR-AMC Chemicals, quotation by phone, June 1997. Sodium hypochlorite (12.5 percent): 0.130, Clorox Company, quotation by phone, June 1997. Sodium nitrate: 0.3588, Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia, 4th Ed. e Data on sodium nitrate were used to characterize these four compounds. f The factors are computed for 1-nitropropane to represent nitroparaffins.