Hazards of Disposal by Burning

Safety Alert

January 2016


In the past seven months, the Explosives Regulatory Division (ERD) received the reports of an accident and an incident associated with the destruction of explosives by burning.

In both instances, the explosives under destruction detonated unexpectedly.


Safety must be the primary consideration during an explosives destruction operation.  Lack of proper procedures and complacency are common causes of accidents and incidents.

Except as authorized under the Explosive Act and subject to exemptions provided by regulation, no person shall divide an explosive into its components or otherwise break up or destroy any explosives.Footnote 1


The destruction of explosives must be carried out in a manner which does not increase the likelihood of an accidental ignition during or after the destruction. Footnote 2

Destruction by Burning

Destroying deteriorated industrial explosives by burning is an activity which requires a licence or certificate issued by ERD.

During such operations, every precaution must be taken to ensure that:

  • Approved procedures are in place and personnel have been properly trained;
  • No detonators of any kind are amongst the deteriorated explosives to be burned (e.g., bulk explosives, detonating cords, boosters); and
  • At any given time, only one type of explosives is to be burned.

Destruction in Borehole

Often, the best way to destroy deteriorated industrial explosives is to – as part of a planned blasting operation – place them in a borehole (under the collar or stemming) with other explosives and igniting the other explosives.

The destruction of deteriorated industrial explosives in this manner does not require a licence or certificate, so long as: Footnote 3

  • The explosives to be destroyed and the other explosives have similar properties (e.g., similar density and propensity to detonate); and
  • The presence of other explosives at the time of the ignition does not increase the likelihood of harm to people or property.