1995 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security


                                OF THE

                          INSTITUTE OF MAKERS

                             OF EXPLOSIVES


            H.R. 1710, Title lll, Section 305, and Title V

                 (Relating To Taggants In Explosives)


                                OF THE

                       HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             JUNE 13, 1995

                   Institute of Makers of Explosives

                   1120 19th Street, N.W., Suite 310

                      Washington, D.C. 20036-3605

                   (202) 429-9280 FAX (202) 293-2420

                         OUTLINE OF STATEMENT

I .        Introduction

Il.        Description of Institute of Makers of Explosives

Ill.       Description of Commercial Explosives Industry and    


IV.        IME's Position on HR 1710

           A. Overview

           B. Study v. Reasonable Regulation

V.         Identification Taggants

           A. Safety of Taggants

           B. Environmental Concerns with Taggants

           C. Feasibility of Taggants

           D. Effectiveness of Taggants

           E. Cost of Taggants

           F. Tagging in Switzerland

Vl.        Detection Markers

Vll.       Permitting of Purchasers of Explosives

Vlll .     Conclusion


     Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, I am

Christopher Ronay, the President of the Institute of Makers

of Explosives (I ME), and I am accompanied by members of I

ME's Board of Governors, Mr. David True, Vice President of

Austin Powder Company of Cleveland, Ohio, and Mr. Paul

Rydlund, Vice President of El Dora do Chemical Company of

St. Louis, Mo. We appreciate the opportunity to present

testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 1710,

the Comprehensive Antiterrorism Act of 1995 and, in

particular, on the sections related to tagging explosives.

My statement will be brief and to the point. It is more

fully amplified in I ME's written statement which I

understand will be made a part of the record. Following my

short statement, Mr. True, Mr. Rydlund, and myself will be

happy to respond to your questions.

     Prior to my joining the IME last fall, l was Chief of

the FBI Explosives Unit. l spent 18 years of my career with

that unit and during that time have been personally involved

with the bombing investigations under the Bureau's

jurisdiction, including the bombing of Pan Am 103, the World

Trade Center in New York, and the UNABOM investigation.

Prior to my FBI career I was a Captain in the United States

Army, commanding an Explosives Ordnance Disposal Detachment

     As you can see, my professional career has been

dedicated to assuring the public safety and the safe use of

explosives. I joined IME because of the long tradition of

cooperation between law enforcement and the explosives

industry. From my own experience, l know that IME and this

industry are dedicated to preventing explosives from being

used by criminals and terrorists.


     IME is the safety association of the commercial

explosives industry in the United States and Canada. IME was

founded in 1913 to provide technically accurate information

and recommendations concerning explosive materials and to

serve as a source of reliable data about their use.

     The primary concern of IME is the safety and

protection of employees, users, the public and the

environment in the manufacture, transportation, storage,

handling, use and disposal of explosive materials used in

blasting and other essential operations.

     The member companies of IME and their 60-odd

subsidiaries and affiliates produce about 90% of the 4.1

billion pounds of commercial explosives consumed annually in

the United States in connection with quarrying, mining,

construction, demolition, and oil and gas exploration.

     IME has a long record of promoting safety in the

manufacture, transportation, storage, handling and use of

the explosive products manufactured by its members. It has

an equally long record of cooperating with federal, state

and local law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Our

industry's recommendations are today embedded in the

regulations of federal agencies such as the Bureau of

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), the Department of

Transportation (DOT), the Office of Surface Mining (OSM),

the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and the

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as

well as the regulations of over thirty states. We also are

proud, as an industry, that we have been called upon to

assist law enforcement agencies in their 

efforts to investigate bombing incidents and that we have

been able to respond promptly and effectively.

     As manufacturers of explosive materials, we have a

special responsibility to ensure that our products are safe

for their intended use. We are committed to doing everything

possible to prevent the criminal use of our products and to

assuring the safe handling by those who legitimately are in

contact with them. We are also committed to working with

government bodies in developing new technologies to

safeguard the public.



     A brief description of the commercial explosives

industry is appropriate. Members of the commercial

explosives industry are involved in the manufacture,

distribution and use of a wide variety of explosives

products. The manufactured explosive materials are shipped

to agents and distributors who, in turn, sell these products

to the end users. Commerce in explosive materials is carried

out within an aggressive, long-standing regulatory scheme

enacted by Congress and administered by a number of state

and federal regulatory agencies.

     The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)

requires all participants in the interstate commerce of

explosives to have a license or permit to manufacture, sell,

distribute, store, use or otherwise handle explosive

materials. Currently, about 10,000 individuals and firms

possess licenses or permits issued by BATF for these

purposes. Manufacturers of commercial explosives represent

approximately 10 percent of this total and distributors,

importers, and consumers engaged in the sale, distribution,

storage, and 

use of explosive materials make up the remaining 90 percent.

These BATF requirements do not apply to intrastate purchases

of explosives.

     BATF also has extensive regulations related to the

storage of explosives. The Department of Transportation

(DOT) regulates the transportation of all explosive

materials. The Occupational safety and Health Administration

(OSHA) regulates the safety and health of employees engaged

in the manufacturing and handling of explosives. The Mine

Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Office of

Surface Mining govern the use of explosives in mining

activities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

controls all environmental aspects of commercial explosives

and their use.

     Commercial explosives are used by a diverse group of

industries with operations of varying sizes. Generally, the

4.1 billion pounds of commercial explosives produced in the

United States can be broadly divided into the following

industrial use categories:

 About 65 percent of all the total annual tonnage of

commercial explosives is used in coal mining, both open pit

and underground. The coal mining users of commercial

explosives range from large publicly-owned corporations to

small independent operations. Explosive materials are used

primarily for blasting the coal overburden to allow access

to the coal seam. With the use of commercial explosives, the

coal industry produced approximately 1 billion tons of coal

in 1992

 Approximately 15 percent of explosive materials are used

annually in quarrying and nonmetal mining.

 Approximately 10 percent of explosive materials are used

annually in metal mining.

 Approximately 7 percent of explosive materials are used

annually by the construction industry for buildings, roads,

and pipelines.

 The remaining 3 percent of commercial explosives are used

in a variety of ways including oil and gas exploration,

agricultural uses (e.g. clearing land, removal of stumps,

and dislodging of boulders), and specialty functions such as

fusing metals together.

     Commercial explosives include a wide variety of

explosive products that are put to many industrial,

agricultural and residential uses affecting a broad cross

section of individuals in this country. Several thousand

different products/formulations are offered to the users of

explosives. Because commercial explosives are used in

construction, mining, oil exploration, and agriculture,

regulatory programs potentially affect the safety of workers

in many different workplace settings. They also can affect

the costs of housing, fuel, energy, and a myriad of other

products and services that are dependent on the use of

commercial explosives.

IV. Overview of I ME's Position on HR 1710

     Domestic and international terrorism, such as the

recent bombing of a federal building and day care center in

Oklahoma City, raise concerns of what can be done

legislatively to prevent these horrific events. IME has long

offered its expertise and assistance to law enforcement and

to Capitol Hill to move forward on rational and effective

legislative initiatives. That is our intent in testifying

today and offering our views on HR 1710.

A. Overview--With regard to HR 1710, I ME's position on

legislative initiatives under consideration is as follows.

1.   IME supports a comprehensive licensing/permitting

requirement for purchasers of explosives, such as that

required in HR 488 sponsored by Congressman Quinn. HR 488,

currently not a part of HR 1710, would expand the current

requirements for permitting interstate purchases of

explosives to include intrastate purchases of explosives.

2. IME supports Title V of HR 1710 related to the Convention

on the marking of plastic explosives.

3. IME supports Section 305 of Title lll requiring a study

of tagging of explosive materials, rendering explosive

materials inert, and imposing controls for precursor

chemicals of explosives.

B. Study v. Reasonable Regulation

     President Clinton and Congress have proposed that the

government conduct a comprehensive study of placing taggants

in explosives. President Clinton has also proposed that BATF

regulatorily require that taggants be placed in explosives.

IME believes a study is necessary before any conclusion can

be drawn as to whether BATF should begin regulatory

proceedings to require placing taggants in explosives. There

are good reasons, which are detailed in this statement, for

our position.

     The only major and comprehensive study on taggants was

completed by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) in

1980. OTA, in its report entitled "Taggants in Explosives"

noted the limitations of the project, primarily "the

preliminary nature of the taggant research." The report

noted "Additional information is required on all aspects of

the analysis--technical efficacy, safety, cost and utility."

     Over the last fifteen years new information and new

technologies have been developed. It is important to

evaluate all of this information as well as to address

concerns that are, to the best of our knowledge, unresolved.

     More specifically, with regard to the study of placing

taggants in explosives, IME believes it is essential that

the study address the following concerns prior to

legislatively mandating a regulatory requirement for placing

taggants in explosives:

Safety--There are safety concerns with placing taggants in

explosive materials during the manufacturing process and

with the legitimate use of the tagged explosives during

mining operations. For example, it was recently concluded

that the taggants destabilized TNT during a melt/pour

operation for making cast boosters.

Environment--No one has evaluated the environmental effects

of introducing over two million pounds of the plastic/metal

chips (taggants) into the environment every year, or the

effects of disposal of greatly increased amounts of

hazardous waste resulting from leftover batches of tagged


Feasibility--Use of explosives containing taggants during mining

operations will result in the contamination of the raw materials, such

as silica, sand and salt and, in some cases, render it useless for

production of end products. For example UNIMIN Corp. has written its

Congressional delegation regarding the "devastating impact" on the

American manufacturing of semi-conductors by placing taggants in


Law Enforcement Effectiveness--Very few criminal bombings,

one to three percent, are made of commercial high

explosives. Homemade explosives were the choice of criminals

bombing the world trade center, the federal building in

Oklahoma City, and those planning to bomb the Lincoln Tunnel

in New York City. In 1993, only 36 bombings of 2,364,

involved commercial high explosives. A number of those 36

bombings were solved and traced to the manufacturer through

evidence left at the scene. Obviously, tags would have been

relevant in only a handful of cases. In these cases, the

tags would have to be found by investigators, which, in a

devastating bombing such as in Oklahoma City, is most

unlikely. If a taggant is found, the investigator is led to

the manufacturer and to a listing of the purchasers of that

batch. Criminals are not likely to legally purchase the

commercial explosive. It is more likely to have been stolen

from a storage magazine. One does not need a taggant to

obtain a list of commercial explosive thefts, as those are

required to be reported to the BATF. Furthermore, if

taggants were required in explosives many crime scenes would

contain multiple taggants (those from new building materials

and construction sites) thus the taggant from the criminal

bomb would not be distinguishable from those taggants

resulting from legitimate use of explosives such as in the

making of concrete, mortar and brick.

Cost--Our nations financial resources are limited. Congress

has struggled with the federal budget and recognized the

impacts of increased cost of regulation on business, jobs

and competitiveness, both abroad and at home. The placement

of taggants in explosives, the record keeping, the cleaning

of pipes and gears between each batch of explosives, the

cost of disposing of excess hazardous waste at the end of

each batch would be very expensive and would raise the cost

of mining operations and other commercial operations.

Furthermore, cost estimates are needed regarding the impact

on small business, which may be forced to shut down, and on

trade, domestic and international. The mining industry would

be severely impacted.

     IME can assure the committee of its full participation

in any study and that, provided the Report is sound,

thorough and objective, we will work with the Congress and

the agency to address its conclusions.

     The remainder of our testimony will expand further on

these issues as well as I ME's position on legislative



     Section 305 of HR 1710 would require the

Attorney-General, in consultation with other interested

parties with expertise, including the private sector, to

conduct a study on (1) placing identification and detection

taggants in explosive materials; (2) whether materials

commonly used to manufacture explosives can be rendered

inert; and (3) whether controls can be placed on certain

precursor chemicals used to manufacture

explosive materials. The Attorney-General would be required

to report the results of this study to Congress within 6

months after the effective date of the legislation.

     IME's comments are directed only towards the proposed

study of identification taggants. Identification taggants

are microscopic chips of metal and nine layers of

different colors of plastic. Each batch of chips is assigned

a code based on the color scheme . The theory is that each

batch of chips can be easily placed in a batch of

explosives; that law enforcement will, timely, find a

taggant at a bomb scene (if a commercially manufactured

explosive is used); that the color code will identify the

manufacturer and the recorded purchasers; and that the

information will lead to the criminal. There are many

problems with this theory.

     IME believes that a study is needed to examine the

following: the unresolved safety issues raised by placing

identification in explosive materials; the impact on the

environment; the technical feasibility of adding taggants

during manufacture; the effectiveness of taggants as a law

enforcement device and whether taggants would enable law

enforcement agencies to apprehend bombing suspects more

quickly and efficiently than they do at present; whether

tagging explosives is feasible for intended lawful mining

use; and whether the high cost of this proposal is justified

by the minimal benefits to law enforcement. IME believes

that these issues are unresolved, at best, and that the

study should be designed to require that these issues be

thoroughly evaluated. I ME's concerns about each of these

issues is explained in more detail below.

A. Safety of Taggants

     The manufacture of explosives is a very sensitive

process that must be done with 100% safety or the result can

be an explosion that kills and injures workers and

demolishes the facility. Any change in the explosives

formula, and particularly the addition of any new substance,

can destabilize the mixture, setting off reactions that

create a severe safety hazard. The Mine Safety and Health

Administration (MSHA) requires that any change in the

formula for a "permissible" (an explosive used underground)

must be retested and reap proved before it is used in actual

blasting. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health

Administration prohibits workers from carrying any loose

items into a manufacturing facility because of the fear of

foreign items getting into the explosives mixture.

     July 25, 1979, there was an explosion in GOEX's cast

booster plant in Camden, Arkansas, which GOEX believes was

caused by the taggants. GOEX subsequently filed suit in

Federal Court against The Aerospace Corporation and the 3M

Company, which, at that time, was the owner of the taggant.

Prior to the trial, the parties reached a settlement

agreement with GOEX resolving the dispute (Aerospace paid an

undisclosed sum to GOEX), with each party neither admitting

or denying the adverse parties' allegations.

     In 1993-94 the Austin Powder Company, Cleveland, Ohio,

conducted a compatibility study by incorporating taggants

into cast boosters. It was concluded that the taggants

destabilized the TNT resulting in an unsafe manufacturing

condition. Recently the New Mexico Institute of Mining and

Technology confirmed this result (see attachment A).

     In 1980, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA)

assessed the question of whether the addition of taggants to

explosives might create a safety hazard. OTA 

concluded a full-scale qualification program is necessary

before taggants can be added to all explosive materials and


     * The addition of 3M (now manufactured by Micro trace,

Inc.) identification taggants to .... and one variety of

booster material produces a chemical reaction at elevated

temperatures and high taggant concentrations

     * There is little evidence regarding the safety of

detection taggants, or of the 

combination of identification taggants, as testing has 

only recently been initiated and no results have yet 

been reported.

     OTA also concluded "Additional information is required

on all aspects of the analysis--technical efficacy, safety,

cost, and utility."

     MSHA has recently raised concerns with placing

taggants in permissible, explosives placed deep into the

earth and then discharged. The concern is that the

plastic/metal chip would not be entirely burned up during

the blast and that these chips would be expelled,

potentially igniting coal dust/gasses, and causing a second

explosion endangering the work site.

     Furthermore, long-term production compatibility and

the affects on stability and shelf life testing has not been

performed. Such testing is essential to any thorough

evaluation of the potential hazards of adding an

identification taggant to explosives.

     In 1980, the OTA stated: The lack of dab on long-term

effects in terms of safety, stability and performance,

especially in products such as gels and slurries,

is particularly important. As a result of this uncertainty,

not even preliminary indications of safety are possible at

this time, much less the demonstrations necessary before a

tagging proposal could be safely implemented. (OTA, Tagging

in Explosives, p.6)

     Even the company now manufacturing the taggant, Micro

trace, Inc., will not attest to the safety of placing

taggants in explosives. In fact, they would insist on the

following disclaimer:

     "MICRO TRACE shall not be liable for any injury, loss

     or damage, direct or consequential, arising out of the

     use or the inability to use the product. Before using,

     user shall determine the suitability of the product

     for his intended use, and user assumes all risk and

     liability whatsoever in connection therewith."

     As this disclaimer implicitly recognizes,

manufacturing and using explosives are extremely dangerous

activities. These activities require 100 percent safety 100

percent of the time.

B. Environmental Impact

     Whenever a new material is added to a product, the

environmental impacts of that addition should be analyzed.

One direct impact of adding taggants will be an increase in

the volume of explosive waste, with a commensurate increase

in the safety, cost, and technology concerns associated with

waste disposal. This increase will occur as a result of

being unable to reuse waste product that, except for the

need to preserve the integrity 

of the taggant code, could otherwise be reused e.g. product obtained

when cleaning out machinery between taggant batches, damaged packages


     Additionally, taggants are made from a combination of

plastic and metal, neither of which is biodegradable. If

added to explosives, the widespread use of these products

will spread these taggants throughout the environment. Over

time, taggant particles will inevitably accumulate in areas

where explosives, are used e.g. mine sites, construction

sites, and quarries..

     We have no information with which to evaluate the

effects of introducing these materials into the environment.

We do not know whether metal will leach out, affect plant

life, or end up in the food

C. Feasibility of Taggants

     The impact on adding taggants to explosives would have

a tremendous effect on related industries. One example is

explained in a letter sent to Senators Helms, Fair cloth,

Dodd and Lie Berman from UNIMIN Corp. Which has a quartz

operation in North Carolina. UNIMIN states that placing

taggants in commercial explosives would devastate their

business. (The letter is Attachment B.)

     UNIMIN uses high purity silica to produce

semiconductors. If the explosives used in blasting for

silica-containing ore contained taggants, the raw material

would be contaminated with the taggants. UNIMIN uses the

most advanced technology in the industry to remove nearly

all forms of contaminants from the silica products. The

slightest impurity can result in defective silicon chips.

The contamination of silica with taggants 

would make the product unsuitable for use in the production

of semiconductors and provide foreign competitors with an

enormous opportunity to make inroads into Unimin's market

share. The company strongly opposes the requirement for

taggants in explosives.

     I have attached similar letters related to sand used

in glass manufacturing (see Attachment C) and to salt (see

Attachment D). It is likely many industries are in a similar


D. Effectiveness For Law Enforcement Purposes

     In theory, taggants provide a utility to law

enforcement. This is just not the case.

     In the first place, commercially manufactured

explosives, such as dynamites, water gels, slurries, ANFO

and blasting agents, are used in only 1 %-3% of the bombing

incidents that occur each year in the United States. The

remaining 97% to 99% consist of homemade mixtures and

commercial powders. In the overwhelming number of incidents,

therefore, taggants would not have been involved. The tragic

criminal bombings at Oklahoma City and the World Trade

Center, involved homemade explosives which would not have

contained taggants.

     For example, in 1993, the last year for which figures

are publicly available, the BATF reported that approximately

2,364 bombing incidents, including the World Trade Center

bombing, were perpetrated in the United States. Of these

incidents, approximately, 714 (30%) were caused by devices

using flammable liquids; 626 (26%) by devices using black

and smokeless powders; 565 (24%) by devices using broadly

defined chemicals; 303 (13%) by devices using fireworks

powders; 32 (2%) by match heads; and 31 (1%) by

devices using dynamites and water gels or high explosives. The

remaining incidents, approximately 4%, were caused by military,

blasting agents and other unidentified explosives.

     In the 1 %-3% of bombings that did involve commercial

high explosives, there are many forensic clues that help

identify the manufacturer. The industry works closely with

the BATF and the FBI to assist in identifying the product

used, the manufacturer, and if possible, the likely

purchasers of the explosives. For example, the companies

provide law enforcement with samples of their products for

forensic work and assist with the analysis as needed. The

industry maintains detailed records of products sold and

provides that information to law enforcement when requested.

Furthermore, the BATF requires the reporting of all thefts

of commercial explosives. Any taggant, if found, would be

unlikely to provide additional or, timely, information that

would lead to the criminal. The tag only identifies the

purchaser of a specific batch of product.

     Another problem which draws the utility of taggants

into question, is the likely difficulty of actually finding

any taggants after a blast of any magnitude. Investigators,

using fluorescent lights and magnets in the dark will have

to scour through tons of debris containing countless

particles of metal and fluorescent materials looking for a

chip the approximate size of a grain of sand. Additionally,

if taggants are mandated in explosives, the resulting raw

materials used in building and road construction will

contain tags. Thus, a new building will contain many

different tags confusing the investigation of the future


     It has been asserted by some proponents of tagging

that an identification tagging program would permit tracing

a particular explosive, just as a firearm can be traced by a

serial number, or a truck by the serial number on its axle.

This assertion is not correct, of course.

     A batch, or lot, of explosives can consist of hundreds

or even thousands of explosive items. For example, a 20,000

pound batch of dynamite packed in 1-1/4" x 8" cartridges or

sticks, a popular size, would be packaged in approximately

40,000 cartridges which would in turn be packed in 400

fifty-pound cases. The same taggant would be in each of the

40,000 cartridges. Therefore, if the identification taggant

survived the detonation atmosphere, its recovery would not

identify a particular cartridge. The recovery would simply

identify all the legal purchasers of the dynamite comprising

the entire 20,000 pound batch which could be distributed

over large geographic areas.

     There are many ways to circumvent a tagging program,

and a bomber with only minimal grasp of the issue would be

able to do so. Terrorists arid professional criminals, the

primary targets of a tagging program, are precisely the

groups most capable of defeating its intent by:

      Stealing the explosives,

      Purchasing explosives using false identification;

      Making explosives from many untagged, unregulated 

       and commonly available materials such as ammonium 

       nitrate fertilizer;

     * Removing the taggants, which with the 3M taggant can 

       be accomplished with relative ease in some explosives 

      using an ultraviolet light and a simple magnet.

     The industry shares in the universal concern that

bombing suspects should be apprehended promptly. It is

notable, however, that in the two most recent terrorist

bombing incidents, i.e. the World Trade Center and Oklahoma

City, suspects were apprehended promptly, without help from

taggants. Taggants would not have reduced the time it took

to make an arrest, or produced any significant improvements

in an already laudable law enforcement performance.

E. Cost Effectiveness

     The costs to society of placing taggants in explosives

depend on many things, none of which have been adequately


 The cost of buying a batch of taggants (from a company

monopolizing the market);

 safety testing all explosive formulations to which

taggants are added;

 changes in the manufacturing process (e.g. converting the

existing process to accommodate batch manufacturing;

performing OSHA process safety management analyses on

changed manufacturing processes and products; additional

clean-up operations necessitated by contamination concerns;

reduced productivity due to lost time; the hiring of

additional employees);

 the size of the batch in which taggants are to be placed,

and the taggant concentration;

 lost production due to the inability to rework damaged or

off-spec explosives or explosives reclaimed during


 record keeping by manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors

and retailers;

 the environmental costs associated with the inability to

rework explosives which thus become hazardous waste;

 costs to secondary industries, such as silica miners who

will be required to remove taggants from their mined product

to ensure that their product will be suitable for its

intended use e.g. semiconductor chip manufacture;

 law enforcement and government costs connected with the

administration of the program; market distortions due to

product losses, shifts to products without taggants, and the

pressures placed on smaller businesses by the generally

higher costs they would have to pay for taggants;

 product liability costs associated with the introduction

of foreign matter into explosives,*the percentage of

taggants required in a pound of explosives;

 costs of shutting down a manufacturing plant for cleaning

before starting a new batch;

     The 1980 Office of Technology Assessment report on

"Taggants in Explosives", which is fifteen years out of

date, evaluated some of these elements but acknowledged that

the OTA data was very limited. In addition, the OTA Report

did not estimate many of

the cost elements listed above such as cost of shutting down

the plant between batches to clean out pipes and gears, or

the costs associated with disposing of the leftover

explosives waste following each new batch of explosives.

Furthermore, the OTA Report is out of date on the costs of

tags; the differences in costs for large business versus

small business; and the manufacturing processes used today.

     Data from the companies themselves show an average of

eight changes per day of running a different product through

the same machine. How often would the government have the

companies change tags for different batches? The costs could

be astronomical. Confidential data show that small companies

forced to buy tags in small quantities at the higher prices

would most likely go out of business. Companies engaged in

international commerce would be forced to manufacture

overseas or beyond our borders to avoid the costs of


     A commonly used 1993 cost estimate for buying the

identification taggant for explosives was $0.09, which

equates to roughly $400 million. This figure does not

include any other of the cost factors cited above. Even so,

this figure is significant when one considers the 1993 costs

of various explosives:

 Cost of bulk ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) blasting

agent at use site --- about $.10 per pound.

 Cost of bagged ANFO blasting agent at use site --- about

12 per pound.

 Cost of bulk blend blasting agents at use site --- 20 to

25 per pound.

Cost of packaged blend blasting agents at plant --- 20 to

27 per pound.

 Cost of Class A (UN Division 1.1) dynamites, emulsions,

water gels and slurries at 

plant -- less than 90 per pound

     The direct and indirect costs of an identification tagging

program would vary enormously depending on the scope of the program


     During the original pilot program referred to in the

OTA study, BATF proposed a taggant concentration of 0.05%

taggants, by weight, per pound of explosives and a batch

size of 9920,000 pounds . IME received information from

sources, including BATF personnel, that BATF wanted to

increase the taggant concentration to facilitate taggant

recovery at bombing scenes and lower the batch size to

10,000 pounds to facilitate tracing legitimate users.

     IME has not asked its members to conduct current cost

analyses because specific details of a tagging program

involving both an identification taggant and a detection

taggant have not been outlined. Nevertheless, the cost of

taggants must be focused considered, particularly in light

of the minimal benefit to law enforcement.

     A thorough study is needed before these kinds of

devastating impacts are imposed on legitimate businesses in

this country or we will once again be exporting jobs and

market share overseas..

F. Tagging in Switzerland

     Proponents of tagging explosives have cited the Swiss

experience as proof that tagging works. This is mixing

apples and oranges. IME believes the Swiss experience should

be a part of the study on tagging but we do not believe that

it can be cited as proof 

that a U.S. program is feasible since their program is

vastly different than any under consideration in the United


     The Swiss do not use the Micro trace taggant in all of

their products. In fact, there are only three manufacturers

of explosives in Switzerland and they use the Micro trace

taggant in only a handful of explosives. Furthermore, they

put a very low concentration of taggants in each batch of

explosives and change tags only twice a year. Additionally,

they do not clean out their manufacturing equipment between

batches. Thus, some of each batch is contaminated with tags

from the previous batch.

     The Swiss program simply permits law enforcement to

identify one of the Swiss manufacturers and a family or

group of explosive products produced by that manufacturer.

European competitors of the Swiss believe the program was

implemented not as a law enforcement tool but as a non

tariff barrier to protect Swiss manufacturers from outside

competition, a belief that seems consistent with the Swiss

decision not to require taggants in all products

manufactured or imported.

     The Swiss manufacturing experience similarly has no

relevance in this country. In 1994, they produced about 6.6

million pounds of explosives compared to a U.S. consumption

of about 4 billion pounds.

     In the U.S., unlike Switzerland, there are forty to

fifty manufacturers with multiple product lines, and

discussion has focused on requiring all 4 billion pounds of

explosives to be tagged in 10,000-20,000 pound batches.

Thus, each time a batch of the requisite size is

manufactured, the process would be stopped so that the

machinery could be cleaned to make way for the next batch.

Given the law enforcement purpose of the taggants, it 

may be assumed that the manufacturers will be required to

prevent the cross contamination of batches with the codes of

another batch. Switzerland does not appear to have

confronted the technical problems likely to be involved in

converting continuous stream manufacturing to a batch

process, or in converting an existing batch process to the

particular batch pound limits.

     The Swiss program is more modest in scope and the

industry is so different that it provides few if any

insights into the manufacturing difficulties likely to be

encountered in the U.S.

     The Swiss program has also been lauded by taggant

proponents for its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool.

Taggants are alleged to have helped solve 566 bombing

incidents. This information is grossly misleading as these

figures include all criminal incidents involving explosives

over a ten year period, including explosive thefts, non

commercial explosives and undetonated bombs. Swiss Federal

Institute figures verify 236 explosive attacks from 1984

through 1993. Of these, 60 involved marked material of which

28 were solved. It is not known to IME whether any taggant

actually has been found at a bomb site and aided law

enforcement in apprehending a criminal. One of the Swiss

manufacturers told me he was not aware that Swiss law

enforcement had ever found a taggant at a detonated bomb



     Title V of H.R.1710 implements the International Civil

Aviation Organization (ICAO) Convention on the Marking of

Plastic Explosives by requiring all plastic explosives

manufactured in, or imported into, the United States to

contain a so called "detection" taggant. A detection taggant

is a chemical additive which odorizes the plastic and sheet

explosives so they can be detected by sensitive machines at

airports and other security points.

     IME supports this provision. In fact, IME worked with

government officials to assist in identifying a feasible and

safe additive for use in U.S. plastic explosives.

     IME also supports the study required in section 305 of

HR 1710 related to detection taggants.

Vl. Permitting

     HR 1710 does not contain a provision requiring

intrastate purchasers of explosives obtain a permit from the

BATF before being authorized to purchase high explosives.

IME would urge the Committee to incorporate such a provision 

as is currently in HR 488, a bill sponsored by Congressman

Quinn (R-NY).

     Current law requires interstate purchasers of high

explosives to obtain a permit from the BATF before

purchasing high explosives. The Quinn bill would expand the

current law in two ways:

     1) intrastate purchasers of high explosives would be

     required to obtain a BATF 

     permit in order to purchase high explosives; and               

     2) permit tees would be required to submit a fingerprint 

     and a photo ID with each application.

     IME believes such a law would aid in keeping

     commercial explosives out of the hands of criminals.


     Throughout its history, IME and its member companies

have worked cooperatively with law enforcement agencies and

regulatory bodies to develop extensive regulations governing

the manufacture, transportation, storage and use of

commercial explosives in a safe manner. We have worked with

law enforcement investigators to assist in identifying the

type of bomb and to trace a commercially manufactured bomb

back to a manufacturer and to purchasers. We have worked

with law enforcement to develop feasible detection taggants

for plastic explosives.

     Based on this experience, we recommend:

      adoption of Title V of HR 1710 which implements the

     Convention on the Marking of Explosives, an

     international agreement.

      * Adoption of Section 305 of Title lll of HR 1710

      requiring a thorough and

      comprehensive study of tagging explosives, rendering 

      certain explosives inert, and controls ofn precursor chemical.

      * Amendment of HR 1710 to incorporate the provisions

      of HR 488, requiring permits for intrastate purchasers

      of high explosives.

      IME appreciate this opportunity to present our views

and would be happy to respond to any questions.