The Chennai port in India could have over 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate lying. This raises concern since the Beirut explosion in Lebanon due to the lying ammonium nitrate inside the port since 2014.
It has come to know that explosive chemicals inside the containers were seized in 2015. The container was seized as the importer (a private firm) did not have relevant permission at that time.
Since ammonium nitrate is hazardous, small fire nearby can trigger the chemical, resulting in massive explosions, like in Beirut port.
Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) chief S Ramadoss said, “There is a risk of a similar explosion due to ammonium nitrate in the Chennai warehouse. To prevent this, the ammonium nitrate ammunition in the Chennai warehouse should be safely disposed of and used for other purposes such as composting.”
However, officials said that chemicals are safe in the custody. As per DNA, its sources tell that chemicals are under the e-auction process for disposal.
Ammonium nitrate, widely used in fertilizers and explosives, has been in the news recently after the Lebanese government said the massive blast in the capital was caused by 2,750 tonnes of the chemical.
A preliminary probe into the Beirut blast indicates years of inaction and negligence over the storage of highly explosive material. Officials meeting at Lebanon’s Supreme Defence Council on Wednesday said that the stockpile of the chemical – which was seized from an abandoned ship and stored at the Beirut airport for over six years – was behind the devastating explosion.
The blast was heard 240km (150 miles) away on the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean.
Around 12,000 people live near the Chennai port containing 740 tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate.
The blast in Lebanon killed at least 137 people and injuring nearly 4,000 people. Rescue workers in Lebanon are still digging the area to find the survivors if any.
Officials said the toll was expected to rise as the wreckage is cleared.