Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
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Chennai Port has stored over 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate — chemical behind Beirut blast

Ruling AIADMK’s ally S. Ramadoss of the PMK says the ammonium nitrate needs to be safely disposed of and used for making fertilisers.

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Bengaluru: Chennai could be sitting on a time bomb, like Lebanon’s capital Beirut, because over 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate have been found to be stored close to the Chennai Port.

These concerns were brought to the notice of the AIADMK-led Tamil Nadu government by Dr S. Ramadoss, chief of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, the ruling party’s ally.

On 4 August, nearly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at Beirut Port exploded, leaving more than 135 people dead, thousands injured and large-scale devastation.

Ramadoss tweeted he was shocked to learn about 740 tonnes of the explosive substance stored in a warehouse near the Chennai Port.

“This is the cause for the biggest explosion in Beirut…….to prevent this the chemical should be safely disposed of and used for purposes such as making fertilisers etc!” the tweet read.

ThePrint approached minister K. Pandiarajan, also known as Ma Foi Pandiarajan, spokesperson for the Tamil Nadu government, through phone calls, but he didn’t wish to comment on the issue.

Also read: Lebanon officials ignored warnings on ammonium nitrate behind deadly Beirut blast

Where did it come from?

According to Chennai Port sources, this large amount of ammonium nitrate was confiscated in 2015 by the customs department, and has been lying there since.

The port officials, on the condition of anonymity, said the substance was stored “safely” in Manali, around 14 km from Chennai Port. The consignment consists of 36 containers with around 20 tonnes of ammonium nitrate each, meant to be transported to Sivakasi, India’s fireworks hub. It was confiscated before being sent there due to “technical reasons”.

Government sources added, also on the condition of anonymity, that officials visited the storage facility this morning and that the chemical would be e-auctioned soon.

Also read: All about ammonium nitrate — chemical behind the massive blast in Lebanon’s Beirut


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