Bulgaria Bans Ammo Imports, Transport for Utilisation Purposes

Business | April 8, 2015, Wednesday // 16:42|  views

Empty mine boxes stashed outside of Midzhur ammunition utilisation factory in the village of Gorni Lom, Bulgaria, October 2014. Photo BGNES

Bulgaria has banned imports and transportation of ammunition with the purpose of utilization and disposal on its territory following several incidents in recent years that have claimed human lives.

The ban is covering the transportation of all types of firearms ammunition for the purpose of import as well as transportation of ammunition into Bulgaria from another country for the purpose of utilization and/or disposal, the government announced on Wednesday.

There is risk involved in the process of utilization of surplus or unserviceable ammunition but unforeseen consequences can occur if the utilization is conducted at factories that are not among the producers of the pieces of ammunition being dismantled, or are unaware of the proper techniques of utilization, or the pieces of ammunition are being processed past their expiry date, the cabinet said in a statement.  

Explosives inside pieces of ammunition can potentially become extremely sensitive to outside interference over time due to various factors. In addition, there is always risk of theft of pieces of ammunition stored for dismantling or disposal or explosives retrieved from them. The stolen explosives and pieces of ammunition can potentially be used by criminal groups in Bulgaria or they can be smuggled abroad, the government said.

To make things worse, a large part of the firms involved in the process of utilization in Bulgaria don’t have proper sites for disposal of ammunition. Building such sites is an expensive process that should also meet tough environmental strandards.

Therefore, Wednesday’s ban is the only available instrument at the moment to prevent new incidents after 19 people lost their lives and 18 were injured due to blasts at ammunition utilization factories in Bulgaria over the past few years despite control exercised by the state, according to the statement.

The most recent incident took place in October of last year when a blast at the Midzhur ammunition utilisation factory in the village of Gorni Lom, northeastern Bulgaria, killed 15 workers. On the day of the explosion the workers were dismantling disused mines imported from Greece under a several million euro contract.

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Tags: Bulgaria, government, ammunition, utilisation, disposal, transportation, import, explosives


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