Pressure on officials to clear 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate near Chennai

Cheryl Sanders
August 6, 2020

Reports say around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely.

The consignment, which arrived way back in 2015, was seized by the Customs as the company did not have an import licence.

Concerns have been raised from several quarters over the storage of the material as large quantities of stored ammonium nitrate are considered hazardous.

Ramadoss on Thursday urged the government to take immediate steps to dispose of the consignment to avert a possible Beirut-like tragedy.

"We have 690 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the Sattva container depot".

According to sources, the Petroleum, Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) is looking into the present status of the chemical as it could turn lethal if kept unused for a long period. "To prevent this, the ammonium nitrate explosive substance in the warehouse should be safely disposed of and used for other purposes such as composting", he said in a tweet. It is also understood that the chemicals are under e-auction process for disposal, sources told DNA.

It has been learned that the ammonium nitrate consignment of 740 tonnes in 37 containers have been imported by Amman Chemicals in 2018 as fertiliser.

Expressing concern over the reported huge quantity of seized ammonium nitrate kept in containers at a freight station here since 2015, he said the uncleared explosive substance could turn out to be a potential risk and that it should be safely disposed of and utilised for objective like composting.

A preliminary probe into the Beirut blast indicates years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material.

The Beirut blast, which occurred two days back is still fresh in the mind of the world.

In pure form, ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) is a white, crystalline chemical which is soluble in water.

Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

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