You may have seen recent news reports about a major explosion which took place in Beirut, Lebanon on Aug. 4th, 2020.
The blast took place at the Port of Beirut in a warehouse at the port where it is believed that a confiscated haul of explosives were kept, it is reported, for up to 6 years. The main material responsible for the blast is believed to be Ammonium Nitrate. Initial reports indicate that almost 3,000 tons of Ammonium Nitrate were stored at that location. Amateur videos of the moment of the explosion show a massive ‘mushroom cloud’ developing followed by a massive shock wave that destroys cars, buildings and shatters windows in its path. So far 78 people are known to have lost their lives.
This catastrophic incident raises a few questions:
How was the storage of the Ammonium Nitrate managed in that warehouse / container at the port?
How was the load secured and protected from potential shock and ignition?
The blast range was significant and in a populated area (city centre) – why was this condition allowed to persist for so many years?
This brings to mind Major Hazard Installations in our own operations – how vulnerable we are to such incidents? Watch the video below for a BBC report of the incident...