BANG! Bomb squad deals with old, unsafe gelignite

COOMA POLICE have received a number of requests to help get rid of old and potentially dangerous explosives on Monaro properties. The requests follow an article published in the Express about gelignite found at Cooma and disposed of by the NSW Bomb Squad three weeks ago.

On October 2 a 'substantial' amount of gelignite discovered at Polo Flat was destroyed by the bomb squad after an anonymous tip off from a member of the public. It was disposed off in the most effective way - it was blown up.

Senior Constable Detective Matt Barry said enquiries for assistance with disposing of old explosives should be made to WorkCover.

"It doesn't appear uncommon for there to be a lot of old gelignite lying around on people's properties on the Monaro," Detective Barry said.

"It is dangerous and unstable and needs to be disposed of safely.

"People used to be able to buy it over the counter about 30 years ago, with a licence.

"People used explosives on rural properties for agricultural purposes such as blowing up tree stumps and rabbit burrows."

Detective Barry said the NSW Police Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit was needed again as recently as Wednesday to dispose of 60 sticks of gelignite on another Monaro property about 20 kilometres out of Cooma.

Two members of the bomb squad visited the property and detonated the gelignite in a specially prepared pit about half a metre deep.

A WorkCover spokesperson said gelignite was regarded as dangerous because it had the potential to become more volatile with age.

"The gelignite discovered in Cooma was AN60 gelignite, [ammonium nitrate], which has not been available for around 30 years," the WorkCover spokesperson said.

"It is illegal to be in possession of explosives without a licence. A licence is required to manufacture, import, store, transport, supply, handle or use explosives.

"Unlicensed use or storage of explosives can attract fines of up to $27,500 or 12 months gaol or both."

The WorkCover spokesperson said any question of prosecution would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

"Where gelignite is stored with no intention to use, WorkCover would encourage its safe removal by suitably trained and licensed persons, including the NSW Police Rescue and Bomb Disposal Unit," the spokesperson said.

People concerned about removal of explosives can contact WorkCover on 13 10 50 and, where appropriate, may be put in contact with a licensed person.

"It is important that non-licensed individuals do not attempt to handle, transport, or destroy this material," the spokesperson said.

Detective Barry said police had finalised their investigations into the gelignite found on the two properties on the Monaro and no charges would be laid.

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