Bulgarian Ammo Depot Owner Blames Worker for Blast

Society | June 24, 2012, Sunday // 12:00|  views

Delislav Delev, owner of the Sofia-based firm, Bereta Trading, and of the blasted ammo depot in southern Bulgaria. Photo by Cross Agency

The recent explosions at the ammo depot in southern Bulgaria were triggered by human error where a worker did unauthorized touching and handling of ammunitions.

The information was reported by the owner of the depot and of the Bereta Trading company, Delisilav Delev, speaking Sunday for the TV channel bTV.

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.

On Sunday, Delev admitted that the accusations the storage facilities contained ammo different than what was contracted with the Defense Ministry are true. He, however, stressed the said ammo arrived at the facility packaged in the very same way as the one the company was authorized to detonate.

The security guard on duty accepted the shipment, but could not see what was inside the packaging. Workers realized the difference only after opening the packages, and immediately took pictures and notified the management.

"The difference in the ammo or its storing does not kill. Incidents happen when an unauthorized individual begins touching things he or she should not have touched ever. The worker who opened and attempted to handle the ammo has been warned to not touch them. The utilization and detonation technology thus is not the reason for the blast," Delev said, adding the said technology has been prepared by a fully qualified and licensed expert and is in full compliance with the contract with the Defense Ministry.

About a week ago, Bulgaria's Defense Ministry announced it was annulling its contract with the Bereta Trading company for ammo detonation and will seek compensations.

Defense Minister, Anyu Angelov, reiterated in the Parliament that more ammunitions than the permissible amount have been stored at the Bereta Trading depot, but was adamant his Ministry strictly adhered to all clauses of the contract.

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 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.

Meanwhile, servicemen from the army, who have been dispatched to clean the area, report they had found and continue to find a large amount of explosives, scattered in nearby farm fields.

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Tags: Petolachkata, 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


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