Kansas explosives regulations upset some industry leaders

The Kansas fire marshal’s proposal to restore state oversight of the explosives industry is drawing criticism from industry leaders, who claim proposed new rules are too complicated and haven’t been properly reviewed.

The fire marshal had not been able to issue permits to explosive industry operators since 2010, when an assistant attorney general mistakenly deleted the authority for the agency to manage explosives manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and blasters.

On Monday, Fire Marshal Doug Jorgensen told a Kansas legislative committee the problem could be fixed in the long term by adopting the latest edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s explosive materials code. The rules were temporarily imposed June 28, allowing the fire marshal to begin issuing explosives permits and inspecting storage sites.

Edward Moses, managing director of the Kansas Aggregate Producers’ Association, told the Joint Committee on Rules and Regulations that industry representatives thought they would have a chance to edit any new rule book. And he said the proposed rules are so complicated that professionals were having trouble deciphering them.

Rep. Sharon Schwartz, a Washington Republican and leader of the committee, said the fire marshal’s office should have obtained the Legislature’s approval before imposing temporary or long-term rules.

Jorgensen replied that the fire marshal’s office needed to solidify oversight of an industry handling dangerous materials.

“I believe that in the current times we live in,” Jorgensen said, “these permanent regulations are critical to the safety of those not only in the explosives industry but to the citizens of Kansas and the country.”

A public hearing, required before final adoption of the rules, is scheduled for Sept. 11. Jorgensen said he hoped to have the new operating rules in place by late September.