Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Docs » SH&E » Stabilization of Explosive and Energetic Materials

Stabilization of Explosive and Energetic Materials
headline bar


Any material known or thought to be Explosive and Unstable

The information here is presented for educational purposes when the need arises to use such professional waste disposal service. Under no circumstances shall an ARS employee attempt to remove unstable products.


Any small quantity, several pounds or less, of an old explosive or peroxidizable material that is capable of detonating or producing a violent decomposition when subjected to an initiating source. Any person in the direct vicinity of the decomposition may be subjected to serious injury which could be fatal in nature.

Physical Hazards/Warning Data:

Explosive or energetic materials which may be sensitive to shock, heat, friction or static discharge should be stabilized by trained personnel using a remote opening system and protected by the proper personal protective equipment.


Possible Reaction if the Material Initiates a Decomposition:

A violent decomposition or a detonation which may produce a destructive shock front, extreme heat and a missile hazard. An explosion which may produce a missile hazards and or disperse a burning volatile liquid.

Personal Protective Equipment: (as needed)

Aluminized Nomex Suit, Gloves and Hood

Kevlar Body Armor

Nomex Coveralls

Chemical Gloves

Eye & Head Protection

Organic Vapor Respirator

Handling Equipment: (as needed)

Remote Opener with CCTV

Remote Injection System

Extended Handling Pole

Explosion Proof Flash Light

Transport Container

Spill Response Material

Tool Box

Materials for On-Site Stabilization: (as needed)

Water, Neutralizing Agent or suitable Organic Solvent

DOT Containers suitable for Flammable Solids or Liquids

Stabilization Procedure:

1. Inspect the containers for structural integrity and any evidence of unstable material on the exterior surface. If explosive material is on the exterior surface of the container, consideration must be given to the neutralization of these materials before movement. The material must be secured in a container that protects it from shock during movement. If there is a missile hazard, it should be moved in a ballistic containment container.

2. The material should be moved to a clear, secure, preselected site of not less than 50 to 100 feet in diameter, depending on the type and amount of material. All non-essential personnel should be at least 200 ft. from the material during movement and the stabilization procedure.

3. Technical personnel, wearing the appropriate protective equipment, will move the material to the preselected site and access the containers via a remotely operated opener. The transport route must be secured during movement.

4. After the container is accessed, a visual inspection of the cap and the interior of the container. If the technician observe any unusual or dangerous conditions, the material should be stabilized by using the remote injection system.

If the container is too full to achieve the proper neutralization or cannot be resealed, the material must be carefully transferred to another suitable container or containers. Slowly add the material being used for stabilization to the container and allow to stand for approximately 15 minutes.

Package the material in approved DOT over packs for transportation to an approved TSD facility for disposal.

Remote Opener & CCTV

The Remote Opener used by Reactive Hazards Reduction is a pneumatically driven device designed and built by RHR for the express purpose of accessing a container of highly reactive or explosive material that is thought to be unstable. This equipment is operated from a safe distance while the operating technician observes the container on a closed circuit television screen.

The opener is on a small platform with a clamping device that securely holds the bottom of the container to be opened. A rotary actuator with a set of gripping jaws is suspended directly over the container's lid on a movable arm. The operating technician actuates the rotary actuator with a compressed gas, carbon dioxide, from a remote location through several high pressure hoses connected to the opener from a control system with a gas supply. After the gripping jaws close on the lid, the jaws then rotate counter clockwise unscrewing the container's lid. After the appropriate number of rotations, the drive gas is directed to a group of lift cylinders and the lid is lifted approximately 1.5 inches above the container. If the container does not have a lid that unscrews, the rotary actuator is replaced by a pneumatic cylinder that actuates straight down and is equipped with a punch that pierces the top shoulder of the metal container.

After the container is accessed, it is safe for the technician to approach the container and inspect the material. After the technician inspects the material, he may decide to introduce the stabilizing agent manually or by remote injection. If a remote injection is used, the stabilization agent is placed into a pressure vessel and injected from a remote location using compressed gas to push the stabilization agent from the pressure vessel into the container of material to be stabilized. After the material has been stabilized, it may be resealed and packaged for disposal. If the container has been punched, the contents must be transferred to another container before it is packaged for disposal. The empty container must be rinsed and disposed of.