Bulgarian Army Scraps Deal with Blasted Ammo Depot Owner

Defense | June 16, 2012, Saturday // 11:12|  views

A photo by BGNES shows the explosion at a privately-owned ammunition depot near the Petolachkata road junction close to Sliven in Southeastern Bulgaria that occurred on June 5.

Bulgaria's Defense Ministry is annulling its contract with the Bereta Trading company for ammo detonation and will seek compensations.

The information was disclosed by Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, speaking in the Parliament.

On June 5, a series of explosions occurred at a private-owned ammo site near the Petolachkata road junction close to Sliven, injuring 9 people. Three of the ammunition depot's employees went missing and were officially declared dead 3 days later by the Chief Secretary of the Interior, Commissar Kalin Georgiev. On June 12, the Yambol regional prosecutor informed that human remains found at the site were confirmed by DNA analysis to belong to one of the three workers, a man identified as Stanimir Kirov.

The facility in question is the property of a Sofia-based firm, Bereta Trading, which uses it to dismantle munitions – including shells from the Chelopechene military depot near Sofia that exploded in July 2008.

The company has dismantled about half of the contracted ammo from Chelopechene, Angelov says.

The Minister has reiterated that more ammunitions than the permissible amount have been stored at the Bereta Trading depot, but is adamant his Ministry strictly adhered to all clauses of the contract.

"The contract states that since the moment of receiving the ammunition, the contractor is fully responsible. The said contract cannot be made public yet, pending the investigation," said he.

Regarding the female employee of the Defense Ministry, who went on an expensive vacation to Bali on the expenses of Bereta Trading, Angelov informed he has asked for a ban on her to access classified information, after which there will be grounds to fire her. She is also probed by the Commission on Establishing Conflict of Interests.

So far, the main leads in the cause of the incident were human error and/or safety violations, but a new one emerged recently. The Bulgarian Standard daily wrote that a new technology for the dismantling of shells, implemented just two months ago, might have triggered the blast.

Speaking off-the-record, workers and people from nearby villages have told media about the new technology. The Bereta Trading owner, Delislav Delev, cited by Standard, explained that the technology used at the depot was largely modeled after the German company "Rein Metal," but declined giving any details.

The authorities investigating the incident are checking now if the qualifications of those employed at the depot had been the ones required for such line of work; if the tool used to cut the shells had coolant in it or not, which could have triggered the first spark; how prior checks that failed to establish violations were conducted.

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Tags: damage, help, state, Bereta Trading, detonation, Kalin Georgiev, blast, explosions, ammo site, depot, ammunition, Sliven, shells, cleaning, army, servicemen, Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, Delislav Delev, technology, Bali, contract, conflict of interests


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