August 11, 2003
Oversight of Shock Sensitive Chemicals at the Department’s Ames Laboratory
Shock sensitive chemicals, which are used throughout the Department of Energy (DOE) complex, have the potential to undergo a rapid reaction that can release relatively large amounts of energy that may be violent enough to produce an explosive detonation. Therefore, properly managing them is critical to ensuring the safety of personnel, as well as the protection of DOE assets. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board reported that reactive chemicals, which include shock sensitive chemicals, have become a significant safety problem. According to the Board, between 1980 and 2002 there were 167 incidents nationally involving these chemicals that resulted in 108 fatalities. Consequently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to determine the adequacy of management controls over shock sensitive chemicals at the Ames Laboratory.