Hodgdon and IMR powders

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PeterN2
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Hodgdon and IMR powders

Postby PeterN2 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:40 pm

It seems that from June next year, most current Hodgdon and IMR powders are going to be banned from being imported into the European Union due to new chemical regulations. I have copied the details below from another UK based forum. I hope they don't mind.

With regard to propellants, the REACH proposals are implemented as of 01.06.2018 which means any non-compliant products cannot be imported into the country / EU on or after that date. Anything arrived and through customs before that date is OK and can still enter the distributioon / retail chain.

Edgar Brothers (the UK importer) is still ordering affected products and hopes to get as much as possible in before the axe falls, and no doubt odd tins will still turn up in retailers' cupboard in 20 (50?) years time given the number of ancient steel gray-painted tins of ICI Nobel powders around that have somehow survived. The problem Edgars have is that they already have literally thousands of pounds of Hodgdon powder on back order whose chances of eventual delivery even without the REACH cut-off is small to nil. (Let's be honest and just say nil!) So, although some more is going to arrive, it won't last long.

All European manufactured grades are OK - so Viht, Nitrochemie (Reload Swiss), Alliant ATK Reloder rifle grades (all made by Bofors and Nitrochemie), Ramshot (manufactured by PB Clermont in Belgium, part of the SNPE Eurenco group); SNPE Vectan are compliant.

Losing their CE certification as of 1st June next year are:

All Hodgdon ADI Manufactured extruded grades (also includes two IMR branded grades - 8208 XBR and Trail Boss), so H4198 through to H1000 and Retumbo 'gone'.

All General Dynamics St. Marks Powder Florida factory grades bar maybe a couple - all Winchester powders and nearly all Hodgdon 'spherical' powders are non-compliant. Hodgdon Lil Gun is compliant, and there is a question mark re the most recent introduction - H. CFE223. So, H335, BL-C(2), H414 and so-called 'Hybrid' powders made by St Marks (H100V and a few more), H. Super and Lever ... formance spherical powders will no longer be imported from the middle of next year.

All 'legacy' IMR powders made by General Dynamics Canada, in Valleyfield, Quebec are non-compliant, ie the traditional grades made by the Du Pont Corporation in the USA and taken to Canada under new ownership are non-compliant. Ie IMR-4198 through to IMR-7828 and including many old favourites such as 3031, 4895, and 4064.

GD Canada has introduced five new 'green' pistol / revolver grades and four rifle grades that are all REACH compliant, although not all may have been CE certified under the new standards yet. In rifle propellants, that's the new IMR 'Enduron' quartet - and I would hope that this number will be expanded but have no hard information as to whether that is a possibility. The Endurons are: IMR-4166 (H4895 / VarGet replacement); 4451 (vice IMR/H4350); 4955 (vice IMR-4831/H4831); 7977 (vice IMR-7828/H1000). 4166, 4451, and 7977 are CE certified and available now - having tried them, I'm impressed and reckon they will fill many gaps. IMR-4955 has only recently been introduced and hasn't got here yet.

Project REACH? Here's what I wrote on another forum to save my two typing fingers:

'REACH' - Regulation (EC) 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and restriction of CHemicals

A 10 year old EU programme that sees final and full implementation next year and which affects any chemicals, or any product containing chemicals used in any field for any purpose. So it affects anything and everything that you use from washing up liquid to herbicides and insecticides, rat poisons, cleaning agents, .... etc, etc. The entire supply chain is affected from importer / manufacturer through trade and retail distribution chains up to sale to the final consumer.

Not just the finished product examined, but each and every ingredient. If any has any chemicals in the mix for which past studies have shown any health or environmental risks, the product has to be reformulated to replace them with approved ingredients or else withdrawn. To manufacture or import any non-REACH listed and approved substance will be an offence in EU law which in turn means in all member states' domestic laws.

More to follow.

Regards
Peter.
Last edited by PeterN2 on Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
PeterN2
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Posts: 822
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: Yorkshire, England

Re: Hodgdon and IMR powders

Postby PeterN2 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 5:13 pm

More information on propellants. The author of this and the above post is Laurie Holland of Target Shooter, an on line magazine.

It is donkey's years since RO made propellants. As long ago as the 1980s in its early privatised days, RORG bought in Vermuiden propellants for its smallarms ammunition lines - a Dutch firm that has long since closed on H&S grounds, as have three quarters of surviving European explosives plants over the last 30-40 years.

Right across the West, governments took plants that were originally built with at the very least government support as strategic assets and bearing in mind late 19th / early 20th century societies' transport constraints had to be built reasonably close to where the workers lived - and in a very different health & safety culture. By the 1970s / 80s, many of these plants were sold, but were clapped out bearing in mind the last major war we and other European countries had been involved in was Korea in the early 1950s. Since privatisation our and other western governments have had no interest in paying to keep any capacity in being in case of a future major shooting war.

At the same time, towns and suburbs had expanded massively taking residential or commercial properties up to explosives plants' boundaries. The H&S conflicts were obvious and it was the factories that went when regulations were tightened after incidents or reviews. Just Google Buncefield oil storage tank farm fire and see the idiocy of local authorities giving planning consents only a few years ago to commercial developments that eroded safety areas around this hazardous facility. If Buncefield had exploded on a weekday 9-5 instead of at 0600 on a Sunday, the casualties would have run into hundreds amongst the employees of the adjacent offices, warehouses and industrial units that were flattened in the blast.

Today, every ammunition component and every round of smallarms ammunition whether military or commercial made in the west is done so by private firms and if a country sees military ammunition consumption rise through involvement in a war, the stock response is that 'the market will provide' - and that's the world market as governments will buy from almost anybody these days, except the USA has kept its military procurement from and sales to the People's Republic of China in place, the almost sole exception (plus current trade embargoes on Vladimir Putin's Russia). So you and I are in constant competition with Uncle Sam amongst others for stuff where there is a fragile supply - demand balance.

Making explosives is a dangerous business, and in the past it was a very environmentally damaging one too. The Thales / ADI Mulwala plant in New South wales that makes Hodgdon's extruded propellants was set up by the USA (Du Pont Corporation with US government money) during WW2 (as was Footscray by Remington to make ammunition) to see locally sourced ammunition replace the hundreds of thousands of tons being shipped across the Pacific Ocean to the SWPTO (South West Pacific Theater of Operations) at a time when shipping and port capacity was one of the main problems in the US war against Japan. The environment was well down the priorities listings. Some 10 or so years ago Mulwala was life-expired with huge associated clean-up costs, and it took a 50% contribution from the Australian government to see it modernised and survive. (Does anybody think for a second that HMG would do this for an equivalent industry here?) This was opposed root and branch by Australian environmentalists who are still fighting to close the plant.

Chris Hodgdon told me many years ago that there is not a single plant in the USA making extruded powders (which involve far more dangerous processes than making the ball type) not because of any ban, but because the US government's EPA has put so many restrictions on the processes that a pound of US made powder would cost far more than the customer would ever pay. That's why the old Du Pont IMR powders are made in Canada now, not the USA.

So far as the US supplying us is concerned, NOBODY in the USA is banning or restricting anything. The Hodgdon Powder Company has been remarkably, I would say amazingly, supportive of the European shooter. Every pound of VarGet, H4350, H4831sc and a few other grades that we have received could and would have been sold in North America at a great deal less trouble to the company and with no need for expensive CE certification in recent years. And why are Hodgdon / the US so short? Two reasons - there is only one shipping service between Sydney and the USA and there are major constraints on the tonnage of explosives that can be loaded into individual ships. Hodgdon simply cannot get as much Australian product as it can sell, hence moves towards Canadian IMR powders in recent years where Hodgdon has taken on board all testing, loads data publication, bottling and distribution.

Yes, there have been demand spikes too because of US consumer scares and panic buying, but that is a minor irritant on the big picture of a barely balanced demand and supply situation that is unable to handle any external pressures now. Put simply, demand for recreational shooting products has grown exponentially in the USA in recent years (as it has here too) - and that's not just handloading. Where do Remington, Winchester, HSM, ABM, Cor-Bon et al buy their powders from? Yes ... the same places as you and me only they buy it in multi-tonne bulk lots. And that's before government suppliers like RORG get into the market.

The SOLE reason these products are disappearing is because of EU action. ie Project REACH. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA - and all the other western markets for them have NO equivalent rules / restrictions in place or it seems any intention to follow in the EU's footsteps. Nobody in Hodgdon's plant / HQ in Kansas is stopping export to us - they simply can no longer do it as they'd be breaking EU law after next June. If anybody has an argument with the various parties over this, it's Brussels' door that should be knocked on. (and good luck at that - I'm sure there will be a really sympathetic response from this wonderful democratic listen to the people outfit!!)

Of course, there are many in our society who are of the view that implementing this sort clean-up action is 'about time / should have been done years ago'. That's their right to hold these views. Another opposing view is that much of REACH like other such EU programmes is another form of indirect EU protectionism, whether it's farm and garden chemicals (that no longer work effectively in 'safe' forms) or propellants, or what's in the bottle of 'Cif' household cleaner that you buy. It effectively shuts out all non EU suppliers for whom the EU is a minor market and/or product reformulation is too difficult / expensive.

That's the final issue here. many people have said to me 'Surely, ADI or St. Marks Powder Co, or IMR can simply reformulate their powders replacing the 'dangerous' chemicals with 'safe' ones that do the same job. If only! It'd be as easy to reformulate Whisky say by simple product substitution - the whole is the sum of the parts and they all hang together, hence GD Canada introducing completely new IMR 'Enduron' grades.

I found the above very interesting.

Regards
Peter.

http://www.targetshooter.co.uk/

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