Contractor fined over Perth explosives cache

A very real possibility of an explosion
Date: Wednesday, 18 December 2019

An experienced explosives expert Bruce William Fagan and his business, Explotise Pty Ltd, were today fined a total of $175,000 in the Armadale Magistrates Court for 12 dangerous goods offences, including unlicensed storage and failing to minimise the risks from ammunition, explosives and other dangerous goods.

In handing down the penalty, the court said there was a very real possibility of an explosion and that Mr Fagan had shown a wanton disregard for the safety of his neighbours and local community.

The dangerous goods were stored at properties in Roleystone and Beverley, and despite knowing how to minimise the risks, Mr Fagan did not satisfy the most basic safety requirements.

Mr Fagan was fined $100,000 while Explotise, which was primarily involved in the collection and disposal of dangerous goods, mainly explosive devices, was fined $75,000.

The court heard that on 18 January 2018, WA Police officers attending a reported burglary at Mr Fagan’s home in Roleystone found bags containing ammunition the intruders had apparently dropped.  Armadale detectives, with assistance from the Police Bomb Response Unit and Dangerous Goods Officers from Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), executed search warrants over three days between 18 and 20 January 2018, seizing explosives, military ordnance, ammunition and firearms.

More than 1,450kg of explosive items and an estimated five tonnes of ammunition were stored at the Roleystone property. The cache included marine safety devices and blasting explosives including AN60 gelignite, detonating cord, black powder, ammunition propellant, linear shaped cutting charges and thousands of detonators.

The court heard the Roleystone property was an unacceptable location for the storage of large quantities of explosives as it was situated in a residential zone and bushfire prone area.

On 23 January 2018, police searched Mr Fagan’s rural property in Beverley and seized more explosive items, including marine flares, ammunition, fireworks, hundreds of detonators and around 57kg of explosive grade ammonium nitrate.

At the time of the incident, Mr Fagan held a shotfirer licence that allowed him to store 2.5kg of blasting explosives, 100 detonators and no more than 30kg of marine flares.

DMIRS Director Dangerous Goods and Petroleum Safety Iain Dainty said there are rigorous regulatory requirements that apply to ensuring explosives are stored safely and securely.

“While Mr Fagan and Explotise were not accused of malicious criminal intent, their actions were considered extremely reckless and put people and property at risk,” Mr Dainty said.

“The risks at the Roleystone and Beverley properties were very real, as there was a significant failure to meet mandatory safety requirements.

“Failing to store the explosives in appropriate storage magazines at both properties meant there was nothing to protect them from heat and flame should a fire have occurred.

“And failing to store the dangerous goods securely increased the risk of them being stolen and used maliciously, which could impact public safety.”