Rheinmetall Denel Munition reassures community about safety of Somerset West site

The Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility is safe says Denel.
The Rheinmetall Denel munitions facility is safe says Denel.
Image: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has reassured residents that the company’s Somerset West site‚ where eight people were killed in an explosion last Monday presents “absolutely no risk” to the surrounding area and communities.

“In all instances RDM complies with and exceeds national (Department of Labour) and international safety standards‚” the manufacturer and supplier of selected munitions and explosive-related products said in a statement on Saturday.

It said the building where the blast occurred was used to make a propellant as part of the production process.

“Importantly‚ the chemicals which are used in this process are present in the air and therefore will not negatively affect air quality.”

It added that there were about 400 buildings on the Somerset West site‚ each designed in such a way that if there was an incident‚ it would not affect the surroundings.

“In this case‚ for example‚ the blast walls ensured that the pressure wave did not spread from the building and was rather directed straight upwards.

“This is because RDM defines and calculates 'explosive circles' which means that buildings are spaced so that if an incident does occur‚ it cannot affect other people or another building. The size of the circle is determined by the operations within the building and RDM adheres to the national and international standards which make provision for the circle to include a maximum possible affected area. All circles are within RDM's premises‚ so any possible effect is limited to the perimeter of the site. The surrounding communities could therefore not be affected by any such incidents‚” the company stated.

It added that staff members were continuing to receive trauma counselling and had been sharing their messages for the affected families in a condolences book that had been placed in the Somerset West site’s foyer.

“RDM continues to support and care for families‚ who remain their priority during this heartbreaking time.

“The company will continue to issue daily updates to the community and to media‚ but can only release the names of the deceased once the identification process has been concluded and only after consultation with the individual families who have been affected‚” the company said.

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