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690 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate saved close to Chennai sparks worry of Beirut-like blast; no menace, say Customs – India News , Firstpost

The storage of the chemical in Chennai turned a trigger for critical concern within the backdrop of the explosion of the
chemical in Beirut on Tuesday, which killed 135 individuals and injured round 4,000

Customs authorities on Thursday sought to allay fears over security relating to the storage of  almost 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at a  container freight close to town after a lethal blast brought on by the identical chemical in Lebanon’s Beirut claimed over 130 lives and wounded one other 5,000.

The chemical value Rs 1.80 crore was seized from a Tamil Nadu-based importer in 2015 who had allegedly declared it as fertiliser grade regardless that it was an explosive grade, a Customs official mentioned. For perspective, the explosive concerned in Beirut blast was almost 2,000 tons

However, the consignment, imported from South Korea, was protected and an e-auction course of was on to clear it, he mentioned.

The Customs’ clarification comes within the wake of studies in a piece of media that massive portions of the chemical substance being saved may very well be a threat, whilst political celebration Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) sought the authorities to make sure its protected disposal.

“The goods are safe and pose no danger” a senior Customs division official advised PTI when requested concerning the fears of security within the backdrop of the devastating Beirut explosion.

Elaborating, the official, on situation of anonymity, mentioned the sleuths had in November 2015 seized 697 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in 37 containers valued at Rs 1.80 crore from the importer.

“The importer had misdeclared the goods as ammonium nitrate of fertiliser grade whereas on examination it was found to be of explosive grade and that (the importer) had not followed the Ammonium Nitrate Rules, 2012,” he mentioned.

The containers had been seized then and had been since mendacity at a container freight station within the metropolis whereas the licence of the importer had been cancelled.

While seven tonnes of the chemical bought spoilt throughout the deluge in December 2015, the remaining 690 tonnes had been beneath technique of e-auctioning, he mentioned.

The company report, nonetheless, didn’t elaborate on the protection preparations in place to again the official’s declare.

Ammonium nitrate (AN), a compound of ammonia and nitrogen, is a extremely unstable materials utilized in agricultural fertilizers and bombs. The Environmental Protection Agency says that disasters involving AN are uncommon however the correct dealing with and storage of the compound are essential to keep away from any accidents. The compound does not burn, nevertheless it melts upon supplying warmth and emits poisonous gases that may trigger an explosion.  AN might explode when uncovered to a powerful shock or when subjected to sustained excessive temperatures in confinement.

It can be not unusual for traces of different compounds to be launched in explosive grade AN to deliver down the temperature at which it’s triggered.

There are additionally strict pointers in place for its dealing with and storage.

US’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration states: “All flooring in storage and handling areas, shall be of noncombustible material or protected against impregnation by ammonium nitrate and shall be without open drains, traps, tunnels, pits, or pockets into which any molten ammonium nitrate could flow and be confined in the event of fire.”

“In general, the conditions of AN storage are crucial to the safety and stability of the AN. Materials co-located or stored with AN may play a role in its sensitivity to explosion,” EPA mentioned.

But previous disasters involving AN have been lethal as a result of usually security protocols had been ignored.

According to CNN, one of many worst disasters in US historical past involving a type of ammonia occurred in April 1947 when a ship loaded with 2,300 US tons (about 2087 metric tons) ammonium nitrate caught hearth whereas docked in Texas City. The ensuing explosion destroyed 1,000 buildings and killed almost 400 individuals.

Another explosion in 1995 in Oklahoma concerned simply two US tons (1.eight metric tons) of AN and it killed 169 individuals and injured 467, the report mentioned.

Earlier through the day, PMK founder S Ramadoss urged the federal government to take quick steps to securely eliminate the ammonium nitrate, saying a doable Beirut-like incident ought to be prevented.

Expressing concern over the reported big amount of the seized chemical saved on the freight station since 2015, he mentioned the uncleared substance may very well be a threat and that it ought to be safely disposed of and utilised for functions like composting.

Tuesday’s explosion in Lebanon’s port metropolis of Beirut killed 135 individuals and injured about 4,000. Buildings had been broken for miles across the metropolis after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a extremely explosive chemical utilized in fertilisers, saved on the facility for six years, reportedly induced the explosion.

With inputs from companies 

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