Chemicals giant adds bite to fight against illicit explosives

29 September 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202020498

Disaster Management
Fire Protection
Security
Chemicals giant adds bite to fight against illicit explosives

AECI Mining Explosives has partnered with Vapor Wake K9 South Africa (VWK9SA), providing them with explosives samples to assist in training their dogs to identify illegal explosives.

Criminal activities that involve the use of illicit explosives in South Africa, especially cash-in-transit (CIT) heists and ATM bombings, have been on the rise in recent years, and have been dubbed a national emergency.

VWK9SA is South Africa’s largest and locally owned, fully operational explosive detection patrol K9 Company. Its dogs specialise in explosives and narcotics detection, as well as other security duties.

“Vapor Wake K9 teams play a critical role in comprehensive preventative security measures, by supporting strategic explosive detection activities,” said the company’s owner, Brad Wood. “They also provide immediate and specialised responses to bomb threats where unattended packages at airports, for example, or other dangerous items are detected.”

Wood commended AECI Mining Explosives for the provision of samples of commercial explosives that are crucial in the training of dogs. “AECI’s involvement in this initiative goes a long way in strengthening our training regime, which is really important in fulfilling our mandate.”

Michelle le Roux, Marketing Manager at AECI Mining, was impressed by the work being done by the VWK9SA team and their dogs. “It’s really a passion for them and they treat these dogs like family. The dogs are heroes with a nose, and we commend them for sniffing illicit explosives out of communities. We at AECI Mining are glad to be part of such a great initiative,” she said.

Christo Peltz, Risk and Safety Manager at AECI Mining Explosives, said the products supplied range from pyrotechnics to propellants and various other types of high-impact explosives. There are also plans to supply non-commercially available compounds.

“We are not only supplying popular commercial explosives but have also undertaken to prepare explosive compounds in a registered explosives laboratory.”

Peltz said this is important as the materials used in terrorist attacks, for example, are sometimes prepared in illegal basement or backyard operations and are inherently unstable, therefore, not available commercially.

“We have the ability to produce these energetic materials in a licenced, controlled and safe manner, and provide small, safe amounts of the materials and legally dispose of them once their purpose is served,” he said.

The amounts required for training of the dogs are relatively small. A few grams of each material is sufficient, said Peltz, adding that the people receiving the explosives need to be in possession of an explosives permit, issued by the SAPS explosives inspectorate.

This permit stipulates the quantity and type of explosive that may be provided. Those receiving the materials also have the legal obligation to store the explosives in a safe and secure manner to prevent unauthorised access.

VWK9SA is fully accredited with the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority, SAPS Explosives Section and the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

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