TOPSHAM — The Planning Board on Tuesday approved allowing storage of explosive materials in town under certain conditions.

Austin Powder Northeast is planning to store detonators, blasting agents and explosive materials in secure storage containers off Stagecoach Drive.

Storage bins will contain ammonium nitrate and an ammonium nitrate-based chemical. Northeast General Manager Al Perozzi said the stored chemicals were benign.

Some nearby residents, however, voiced concerns.

“Stagecoach is sometimes dangerous in wintertime where we are a private road, which raises concerns about trucks coming in weekly or monthly,” Bettina Bellefleur said. “There’s hundreds of acres in Maine that are unpopulated, please take this somewhere else.”

“Probably the only concern I have is if you have a disgruntled employee,” said Kathryn Brillant. “My only concern would be how often do you change the codes?”


Perozzi said security codes used to access the magazines are changed within 24 hours of an employee leaving the company. If someone is fired, the codes are changed immediately. The magazines containing explosives have two locks. If something is missing, the company must notify the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives within 24 hours.

Austin Powder’s plan meets ATF standards, but board members added requirements for the company to follow.

Austin Powder will undergo an annual review of safety measures from town officials. The company will also be required to send product sheets to fire, EMS and police departments, indicating what is on site. The board requested fire, police and EMS be notified when the alarm is set off. The company must also immediately notify authorities upon finding missing inventory, and upgrade the gate on the access road.

“As long as the code permits it, and it fits within the definition I think we should accept that,” said Planning Board member Joshua Spooner. “I’m comfortable our government is doing the right thing and putting in place the correct regulations to make sure it is safe.”

The ATF dictates the storage location and requires a 425-foot buffer from residences for 1,000 pounds of explosives, as an example. The site will still have to undergo ATF and state inspections before storage is allowed.

“We rely on those standards that have been set forth by the government. We can argue about whether we think its sufficient or not, but they are going to be inspected before there is any materials,” said Planning Board member Peter Richard. “I think there are less safety concerns from an accident perspective as there are for a theft or vandalism-type issue.”

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