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 Chemical Security

Chemicals of Security logoTerrorists can use chemicals found in everyday products to make powerful homemade explosives and toxic weapons.

Approximately 40,000 chemicals are approved for use in Australia. Of those 40,000 chemicals, 96 are identified as being chemicals of security concern because of their potential to be used by terrorists to make bombs or chemical weapons.

If you work with chemicals you have an important role to play in keeping Australia safe. Members of the Australian community can also help by being aware and reporting suspicious behaviour.

You are encouraged to report anything that seems unusual to the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00 or hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au.

The National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern

There are 11 chemicals that are assessed as being particularly high-risk. These 11 are covered by the National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern.

One challenge for the Australian Government is to improve the security of chemicals that can be used to make homemade bombs while making sure they are still available for legitimate use by industry and the community. The government is working on a number of chemical security initiatives designed specifically for industry and the community.

Ammonium nitrate is not included in this group of high-risk chemicals as it is already regulated by state and territory governments. The regulation of ammonium nitrate was made a priority in 2002 because of the ease with which it could previously be obtained and used as an explosive for terrorist purposes.

Some of the ways in which the 11 high-risk chemicals are commonly used here in Australia are detailed in the table below:

Chemical Percentage/Form that is of security concern Typical uses of the chemical in Australia
Ammonium perchlorate Ammonium perchlorate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Ammonium perchlorate where it is in pure water-based solution and the ammonium perchlorate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

 

Fireworks
Explosives
Rocketry
Laboratory reagent
Diagnostic reagent

 

Hydrogen peroxide

 

Hydrogen peroxide in aqueous solutions at any concentration, and
Hydrogen peroxide where it is a mixture with one or more other chemical/s (not counting water) and the hydrogen peroxide is at a concentration of 15%or above.
Paper and pulp bleaching
Laundry
Food and beverage industry
Dairy industry
Hair and beauty industry
Mining industry
Pool and spa industry
Pharmaceuticals
Water treatment
Cleaning

 

Nitric acid

 

Nitric acid at a concentration of 30% or above.

 

Mining industry
Dairy industry
Food and beverage industry
Metal processing and treatment
Chemical processing and supply

 

Nitromethane

Nitromethane where it is at a concentration of 10% or above

Pharmaceuticals
Analytical laboratories
Racing fuel in high performance racing
A fuel component in radio-controlled models

 

Potassium chlorate

 

Potassium chlorate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Potassium chlorate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the potassium chlorate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

Fireworks
Explosives
Diagnostic reagent
Laboratory reagent
Potassium nitrate

Potassium nitrate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Potassium nitrate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the potassium nitrate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

Fertiliser
Fireworks and rocketry
Food preservation

Potassium perchlorate

Potassium perchlorate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Potassium perchlorate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the potassium perchlorate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

Fireworks
Explosives
Smelting
Laboratory reagent
Diagnostic reagent

Sodium azide Sodium azide at a concentration of 95% or above. Smelting
Biocide in hospitals and laboratories
Dairy industry

 

Sodium chlorate Sodium chlorate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Sodium chlorate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the sodium chlorate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

 

Mining industry
Metal treatment
Paper production
Food chemical
Laboratory reagent
Diagnostic reagent
Sodium nitrate

Sodium nitrate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Sodium nitrate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the sodium nitrate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

Ingredient in fertilisers
Pyrotechnics
Food preservative
Solid rocket propellant
Sodium perchlorate Sodium perchlorate at a concentration of 65% or above, and
Sodium perchlorate where it is in pure aqueous solution and the sodium perchlorate is at a concentration of 10% or above.

 

Mining industry
Smelting
Laboratory reagent
Diagnostic reagent