Magazine

Bomb-Resistant Trash Receptacles Mitigate Effects of Terrorist Attacks

Kelly M. Herzog

Blast-mitigation devices such as bomb-resistant receptacles are being deployed to replace one of the softest terrorist targets, trash receptacles. A necessity for waste management, they pose a serious threat to public safety and infrastructure security, considering how easily they can conceal an explosive device planted by a terrorist.
Agencies and facilities deploying bomb-resistant trash receptacles to reduce their vulnerability to such an attack must exercise good judgement when purchasing and installing this technology. To maintain an edge over the terrorist, they should not publicize the amount of explosives such receptacles are able to withstand nor their installation locations.
It is equally important that agencies and facilities know what they are purchasing. Understanding how a bomb-resistant trash receptacle was tested to ensure its reliability during an actual terrorist attack is vital. Where within a trash receptacle an explosive device might be placed cannot be controlled, so bottom-center, sidewall and midpoint-center detonation tests must be conducted to determine the actual amount of explosives a particular bomb-resistant receptacle can withstand in an explosion. This is referred to as its explosive containment rating.
During testing, it is essential to anchor all bomb-resistant receptacles to a steel and concrete slab in order to create a real-life deployment scenario. Tests conducted on a dirt surface are misleading because most of the blast energy is absorbed by the ground instead of the receptacle, which will be doing all of the work during an actual attack.
Before purchasing any bomb-resistant trash receptacle, it is important to obtain an official report that confirms how the product was tested. The report should come from a recognized U.S. testing facility and must include the type of explosives used, how they were packed, and what they were packed inside to ensure an identical explosives charge was used for every test. Be certain the report incorporates close-up post-detonation photos and is accompanied by the actual video footage taken from the testing.
Once testing guidelines are established, determining what constitutes a successful test is rather obvious: The receptacle must remain standing after the explosion, the stainless-steel top ring must remain attached to the receptacle, and there can be no penetration of the receptacle's outer wall. In addition to tests using C4 or TNT to measure blast-energy containment, fragmentation-containment tests should be conducted with pipe bombs.
During an explosion in a bomb-resistant trash receptacle, the initial blast energy and fragmentation are contained horizontally, and the remaining blast energy is directed vertically. That's why the liner holding the trash bags in place should be made of a plastic material as opposed to metal, because parts of the liner will become airborne during an explosion.
The testing photo that supports this article features a sidewall explosion using C4 explosives, and a close-up post-detonation photo of the same. These photos were taken from the actual testing, which was completed at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center (EMRTC) in Socorro, NM. It is an independent testing facility well-known for developing and testing ordnance devices for the Department of Defense and the aviation industry for more than 50 years.
Looking closely at the post-detonation photo, notice that the receptacle was anchored to a steel and concrete slab and remained standing after the explosion. Also notice that the stainless-steel top ring remained attached and that the receptacle's outer wall bulged but was not penetrated by the explosion. Given all the testing parameters, this was clearly a successful test.
To create a real-life deployment scenario, the bomb-resistant trash receptacle should be anchored during testing. It is important from a security standpoint to know that the product is tested exactly they way it will be installed. bomb-resistant trash receptacles that can pass a legitimate series of explosive tests and follow all the required parameters for obtaining an accurate explosive containment rating will most likely weigh more than 1,000 pounds each, depending on the amount of explosives they were developed to withstand. During an actual terrorist attack, a bomb-resistant receptacle could tip and roll, gaining a tremendous amount of momentum and endangering anybody in its path. That's why it is recommended that all bomb-resistant trash receptacles be anchored.
The trash receptacle featured in this article integrates a single-point stainless-steel anchoring system that will withstand 4,000 pounds of shear (horizontal) and tension (vertical) force. The nice thing about a single-point anchoring system is the limited amount of time it will take to install each receptacle, an important detail when calculating the actual cost per unit.
Bomb-resistant trash receptacles are ideal for deployment at any facility where waste management is required, public safety is a concern, and infrastructure security is a necessity. These receptacles are available with a choice of more than 60 styles of laminates, a polished stainless-steel finish, or a custom laminate incorporating a logo for quantities exceeding 100 units. For larger facilities requiring more than 100 units, the cost for this technology can be reduced or even eliminated by selling advertising space on the receptacle's outer wall.
Bomb-resistant trash receptacles should look and function like ordinary waste receptacles. However, unlike conventional trash receptacles in airports, universities, malls and other public places, they were developed to protect people and facilities from the harmful effects of an explosion. Unfortunately, there are currently no official standards for vendors to comply with when developing bomb-resistant receptacles. There are also no restrictions placed on buyers when purchasing this technology. That's why it is important to ask the right questions and exercise good judgement when buying and deploying technology of this nature.

Kelly Herzog is with American Innovations. She can be reached at kherzog@americaninnovations.com

Article Abstract from April, 2004




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