Below is information about the kinds of accidents that might occur and what you as a neighbour should do in the event of a hazardous situation or accident at an explosives or fireworks storage facility.
Norway is a mountainous country, meaning rocks often have to be blasted in connection with building houses and roads. As a result, Norway has many businesses that use and store explosives. In addition, there are also businesses that store large amounts of fireworks.
Businesses that store explosives or large amounts of fireworks are defined as major accident hazard enterprises. These companies must have a storage permit from the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) and are subject to regular follow-up. For security reasons, there is no publicly available list of where these major stocks of explosives are located.
Enterprises defined as a major accident hazard are subject to very strict regulations. As long as all the rules are followed, it is considered safe to store explosives and fireworks. Companies defined as a major accident hazard are nevertheless obliged to inform their neighbours and others who might be affected in the event of a serious incident at the facility. This means that you as a neighbour must be informed about what kinds of accidents can happen at these kinds of facilities, how you will be notified and informed in the event of an accident, and what you should do.
Explosives are substances that contain a large amount of potential energy. Fireworks contain relatively small amounts of explosives, but in connection with New Year’s Eve, large amounts of fireworks are stored in certain warehouses. When explosives are exposed to a blow, shock or heat, the energy they contain can be released, creating an explosion. However, without an external input of this nature, explosives and fireworks are normally stable. Safe storage is thus a matter of protecting explosives from external influences.
Accidents can nevertheless still happen. For example, a fire may break out near a warehouse as a result of a forest fire, lightning, technical malfunction in equipment or a vehicle, or human negligence. If the fire spreads and grows, it could cause the explosives to detonate. Pressure waves and flying debris can cause harm in the surrounding area.
In the event of a fire in a fireworks warehouse, in addition to thick smoke, there will be a lot of noise, small explosions and fireworks going off. Here too, there will be a risk of flying debris being ejected from the site.
In the event of a fire, nitrite gases, which are hazardous to human health, may also be released. Nitrite gases are easy to recognise because they are reddish-brown in colour and have a pungent odour. You should always consult a doctor if you have inhaled nitrite gases. Complications can occur up to two days after inhalation of the gas.
If a hazardous situation arises at or near an explosives storage facility, the neighbours will be notified in what is deemed to be the most appropriate manner. The police will lead the response and will be responsible for notifying neighbours.
In the event of a major incident, information will also be provided via local radio stations and the national broadcaster NRK. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to evacuate some homes; for example, due to smoke or a risk of explosion. The police will lead any evacuation operations, with the support of the company and the local fire service.
If a hazardous situation arises near an explosives or fireworks storage facility, such as a forest fire, the first thing you should do is start moving away from the site. Ideally, move away in an upwind direction to avoid the smoke from the fire.
Unless you receive other instructions, stay indoors and keep all windows and doors closed. Stay away from large panes of glass in doors and windows. Follow the instructions that are given by either the police or other parties involved in the handling of the incident. Listen to the radio and search for information online.
If you discover a fire or other incident that you believe could be dangerous, notify the fire service by calling 110 or the police on tel. 112.
Are you concerned about a storage facility containing explosives or fireworks in your neighbourhood and want more information? Contact your local fire service or police. They can tell you more about how you will be notified in the event of an accident and what kind of emergency preparedness the public authorities have put in place.
If you would like information about supervision at the facility, please contact the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling tel. (+47) 33 41 25 00.