RDM reassures public after explosion heard


The loud bang that was heard at Rheinmetall Denel Munition’s Somerset West site on Wednesday morning was caused by the controlled destruction of explosive waste materials and was not the result of an uncommanded explosion.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) assured the public that “that there has been no explosive related incident at any of our production facilities.”

This comes after a loud bang at approximately 00:20 on Wednesday morning was heard from RDM’s burning grounds facility at the Somerset West site.

“This facility is a waste destruction facility for the controlled burning of explosive waste materials. The waste material that was burnt last night was high explosives that could result in a loud noise/‘bang’ when burnt. Whereas, the burning of our other products usually results in smoke or flames. Due to the wind-still conditions last night the noise travelled excessively further than normal,” RDM said.

“Our burning grounds is a controlled facility that usually operates on a Tuesday and Thursday evening, weather dependant. This facility is used to destruct explosive waste material in a controlled manner. Waste material cannot be disposed at offsite landfill facilities and therefor all explosive manufacturing sites have destruction facilities on their premises,” the company explained.

“Our facility holds licences from City of Cape Town and Department of Labour which permits and regulates this activity. Due to the variety and nature of the products being burnt, there will be large flames and/or clouds of smoke from time to time. We predominately burn at night as previously mentioned, due to the favourable wind conditions. Our facility is situated along the coastline and we have strong winds on most days that poses a fire risk. The facility has water sprayers all around, our internal RDM fire department does standby and we notify the City of Cape Town Fire department when we operate this facility, as a standard protocol.

“The company is sensitive to the concerns of the surrounding community and wishes to reaffirm that there is no current risk or existing threat and that the process being followed is normal. We recognize that it was an unusually loud noise and we apologize for any inconvenience or disturbance caused,” RDM concluded.