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DOING SOME DIGGING Licensed Not to Kill

One never knows what might cross the desk of a busy field editor. This popped up last week, and I'm not sure it's o...


One never knows what might cross the desk of a busy field editor. This popped up last week, and I’m not sure it’s of any use to our readers. It certainly isn’t anything I will be following up on, but here goes:

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is demanding that all federally issued explosives permits be renewed. The announcement was e-mailed to me by the International Society of Explosives Engineers (thank you Instantel), and it says in part:

Please be advised that in order to apply for a Federal explosives license/permit (FEL) you MUST contact the National Explosives Licensing Center (NELC) at 404-417-2750. Your application package will not be considered complete without the proper FD-258, FBI Fingerprint Card (ORI #ATF-GA-9900), which can only be obtained by contacting the NELC.

The ISEE e-mail included links for downloadable forms. A quick click sent me to the ATF web site where I learned that the fee for the license is about US$200 or half that amount for renewal. There is also an Employee Possessor Questionnaire. Manufacturers, importers, dealers and users of explosives must all be licensed. Applying means jumping through a number of bureaucratic hoops and commitment of a fair lump of cash.

I have no way of knowing what the old procedures were in the United States, but I have an idea why the new license was created. I think we have the war on terrorism to thank. Personally, I am relieved that the U.S. government is trying to control the manufacture and distribution of explosives. The idea of just any madman tossing dynamite hither and yon is frightening. Unfortunately, miners whose job requires dealing with such material may be inconvenienced.

Then it occurred to me to wonder, Does Canada have similar licensing requirements? So I began looking at the Government of Canada web site. Searching for "explosives" took me to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency information, which covers import permits. The Canadian Transportation Agency regulates the loading and unloading of explosives. At the Department of Justice Canada, I found all the legal definitions and classifications, and at last information on licenses and permits. Manufacturers, magazines, importers and transporters of explosives need permits. I’m getting warmer. Off to the Natural Resources Canada web site to see if I can find explosives licenses and permits. There they are under NRCan’s "Services". Finally, at www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms/explosif is the Licensing link to the information about licenses, certificates and permits. Explosives purchase and possession permits are available from local licensed vendors. That was a lot of clicking around to learn what anyone who purchases explosives already knows: See your nearest dealer.

I trust local dealers to know who is legitimately seeking to purchase explosives. The Canadian system may even be better than the one in the United States where some faceless bureaucrat hands out licenses to people he never sees.


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