Explosives suspected stolen from compound

Explosives may have gone missing from a National Roads Authority-licensed storage compound. Police confirmed reports of a suspected theft from a “storage magazine” in George Town.

A spokesperson for the NRA, which has responsibility for licensing and monitoring the ownership and use of explosives in the Cayman Islands, acknowledged the site had not been checked by its inspectors since 2015. At this point, the NRA is not able to determine what, if anything, was stolen.

Asked why the public had not been informed of the suspected theft, which was discovered on Aug. 18, the NRA suggested information could not be shared while a police investigation was active.

“The contents of the magazine were tested and confirmed to be degraded to an extent that detonation would be unlikely and would also require persons with significant technical skill,” the NRA added in a written response to questions from the Cayman Compass.

The authority is currently conducting its own investigation, reviewing storage records and blast reports from the owner of the magazine to determine what, if anything, is missing.

According to the statement, the NRA conducts inspections of explosives magazines as often “as it is able.” In the case of active blasters – usually quarry owners – the NRA makes multiple checks a year.

In this case, it said the license holder had not been active in the last three years and his magazine had not been inspected nor its contents checked in that time.

Regulations to the Explosives Law indicate that when a permit holder ceases to use explosives, the storage magazine should be closed down and the explosives returned and disposed of under the supervision of the NRA.

A Royal Cayman Islands Police Service spokesperson confirmed police had received a report from a member of the public that a blasting magazine container in the George Town area was discovered unsecured and appeared to have been broken into.

She said, “Detectives and National Roads Authority personnel jointly investigated the report as it appeared some material may have been unaccounted for. No actual theft could be confirmed and hence no arrests were made. The investigation was referred to the National Roads Authority.”

The NRA described its investigation as a “precautionary measure.”

“The aim of the investigation is to ensure that all of the degraded blasting material within can be accounted for. While the owner is a reputable blaster with an incident-free history, as part of its investigation, the NRA is working to reconcile the magazine-owner’s records. This process is ongoing.”

The potential theft raises questions about the security of explosives kept on island. According to the NRA, there are currently three active storage sites, which it has responsibility for monitoring.

Asked what it was doing to ensure explosives did not fall into the wrong hands, the NRA responded, “The NRA has conducted inspections of all other storage magazines, to ensure safety standards are met and that inventory logs are being kept as required by the Explosives Law. Additionally, the NRA has been working with a visiting explosives expert to update the Explosives Law to address the current vulnerabilities of the law and strengthen security concerns.”