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Research on Ammunition Explosions in Bulgaria

Reason Institute was selected to partner with Small Arms Survey, a nongovernmental research organization from Switzerland (, on conducting an in-depth interview-based research in Gorni Lom and a focus group research in Chelopechene, regarding the explosion of ammunitions in the two localities. The research is part of a Small Arms Survey project investigating the state of ammunition depots in Southeast Europe.

There have been a few incidents with ammunition explosions in the recent years, among which the explosion in the private-owned explosives plant Midzhur in Gorni Lom (February 2010) and the Chelopechene ammunition depot series of explosions (July 2008).
The aim of the research was to ferret out and examine what the impact and responses to the explosions in the Midzhur Explosives and Ammunition Plant in Gorni Lom and the Ammunition Depot in Chelopechene were. Basically, the research had to inquire into: 1) how the lives of the population in the communities, affected by the ammunition explosions, have changed; 2) how people have reacted to the explosions; and 3) how the authorities – local and national – have acted in these crisis situations.

The target audience included the population of communities affected by ammunition explosions: residents of Gorni Lom and residents of Chelopechene.

As a result of the conducted interviews and two focus group discussions, Reason Institute delivered the following research outputs that will become part of a full-length report on the state of ammunition depots in Southeast Europe: 1) audio recordings of the interviews and discussions; 2) full transcripts of the interviews and focus group discussions; 3) two technical reports on Gorni Lom and Chelopechene respectively, including profile of the participants, screening and selection of the respondents and focus group participants, location and description of the localities, issues raised, etc.); and 4) a summary report, which addresses and analyzes the problem with the management and the proper handling of ammunition depots in Bulgaria, with results, findings and recommendations. These outputs will be incorporated into a wider research on ammunition explosions in Southeast Europe conducted by Small Arms Survey.

The duration of the research, organization and implementation of the activities was in the period 20 May – 1 August 2011.

The research was funded by Small Arms Survey.

You can find the full Small Arms Survey report HERE!