•   
  •   

World Explosions in Beirut: what is ammonium nitrate?

07:15  05 august  2020
07:15  05 august  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

Trump says US generals tell him Beirut blast 'bomb of some kind'

  Trump says US generals tell him Beirut blast 'bomb of some kind' President Donald Trump said Tuesday that US generals had told him that the powerful explosions which rocked Beirut appeared to have been caused by a "bomb of some kind." "It was a bomb of some kind, yes.""It looks like a terrible attack," Trump told reporters at the White House.

2,750 tons of the chemical that had been stored in a Beirut warehouse blew up, killing dozens of people.

The deadly explosion in Beirut has been blamed on thousands of tonnes of the chemical used in fertilisers and explosives . The likely cause of the huge blast in Beirut on Tuesday appears to have been the highly reactive chemical ammonium nitrate .

Un épais panache de fumée orangé s'élève depuis le port de Beyrouth, en fin d'après-midi, le 4 août 2020, après l'explosion d'un entrepôt contenent du nitrate d'ammonium. © Anwar AMRO / AFP A thick plume of orange smoke rises from the port of Beirut at the end of the afternoon, August 4, 2020, after the explosion of a warehouse containing ammonium nitrate .

If the precise cause of the two blasts which devastated the port and a large part of the Lebanese capital on Tuesday August 4 at 6 p.m. remains unknown, it is established that it is a warehouse storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was used as 'explosive. A highly toxic product which has caused many other disasters in the past.

According to Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab, around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored for several years in the warehouse at the port of Beirut which exploded. The provisional toll, on the night of August 5, was 73 dead and 3700 injured . The unprecedented material damage in the Lebanese capital, declared a "disaster city" by the Supreme Defense Council. The shock wave was felt as far as Cyprus, the island state located 200 km off the coast of Beirut.

Trump describes the explosion in Beirut as a suspected bomb attack

 Trump describes the explosion in Beirut as a suspected bomb attack Beirut. What caused the huge explosion in Beirut, with many dead and thousands injured? According to US President Donald Trump, it could have been a bomb that exploded in the Beirut port area. © Twitter The mushroom cloud after the explosion in Beirut. US President Donald Trump has spoken of a bomb attack in connection with the serious explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut. His generals would not assume an accident due to the nature of the detonation. "They think it looks like an attack.

The massive explosions in a Beirut port on Tuesday provoked fear, then speculation after an eerie, white cloud enveloped the lenses of Lebanese Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi said it appeared that stocks of ammonium nitrate , a fertilizer that can be used in bombmaking, had exploded .

Beirut blast caused by ammonium nitrate : interior minister. Lebanon health minister says at least 27 killed in blast. Moeen Hamza, who heads Lebanon's Council for Scientific Research, blames pure "negligence" for the Beirut port explosion in an interview aired on

“It is unacceptable that a shipment of ammonium nitrate, estimated at 2,750 tonnes, has been present for six years in a warehouse, without precautionary measures. This is unacceptable and we cannot be silent on this issue ”, declared the Prime Minister during the meeting of the High Defense Council, according to remarks reported by a spokesperson at a press conference.

Toxicity

The ammonium nitrate at the origin of the explosions is a white and odorless salt used as a base of agricultural fertilizer in the form of granules: ammonitrates, fertilizer for many crops which farmers buy in large bags or in bulk.

Ammonitrates are not combustible products: they are oxidizers, that is to say they allow the combustion of another substance already on fire. "It's very difficult to burn it," Jimmie Oxley, professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island, who has herself worked on the combustion of ammonium nitrate, told AFP. “It's not easy to detonate it. »Detonation is only possible with contamination by an incompatible substance or an intense source of heat. Storage must therefore follow rules to isolate ammonium nitrate from flammable liquids (gasoline, oils, etc.), corrosive liquids, flammable solids or even substances that give off significant heat, among others prohibited, according to a technical sheet from the French Ministry of Agriculture .

Beirut explosion raises fresh concern about Newcastle's much larger ammonium nitrate stockpile

  Beirut explosion raises fresh concern about Newcastle's much larger ammonium nitrate stockpile Orica's ammonium nitrate plant stores up to four times the amount that was in the Beirut explosion, but the company says it's safe and highly regulated.Lebanon's Interior Minister said 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was in the Beirut blast.

The secondary explosion is more puzzling still. An early explanation was that it involved warehoused nitrates exploding , or other stored “highly explosive material” One of the most common nitrates in industrial use is ammonium nitrate , used in fertilisers. It is not ordinarily so explosive in its own right.

The secondary explosion is more puzzling still. An early explanation was that it involved warehoused nitrates exploding , or other stored “highly explosive material” One of the most common nitrates in industrial use is ammonium nitrate , used in fertilisers. It is not ordinarily so explosive in its own right.

"Ammonium nitrate is toxic to humans. By inhaling its dust, it irritates the respiratory tract; by prolonged exposure it causes weaknesses, headaches and by contact, irritations of the skin ”, explains the Chemical Company of France. The many videos of the explosions relayed on social networks show a plume of smoke taking on an orange color: it is emanations of nitrogen dioxide, produced by the decomposition of nitrate, and fatal when inhaled.

The United States Representation in Beirut encourages American nationals to stay safe and wear a mask to protect themselves from possible toxic fumes. "There are reports of toxic gases released in the explosion, so all residents of the area should stay indoors and wear masks if available," told the embassy on its site.

A heavy liability

Many tragedies in the world, accidental and criminal, have as their source ammonium nitrate. One of the very first accidents killed 561 in 1921 in Oppau, Germany, in a BASF factory.

Isabelle Adjani "devastated": she lost a friend in the explosions in Beirut

 Isabelle Adjani © Veeren Ramsamy-Christophe Clovis / Bestimage Isabelle Adjani "devastated": she lost a friend in the explosions in Beirut This Tuesday, August 4, a deadly double explosion struck Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. On Instagram, Isabelle Adjani announced that she had lost one of her close friends. The city has fallen into chaos. This Tuesday, August 4, at the end of the day, a double explosion took place in the port of Beirut, capital of Lebanon.

The secondary explosion is more puzzling still. An early explanation was that it involved warehoused nitrates exploding , or other stored “highly explosive material” One of the most common nitrates in industrial use is ammonium nitrate , used in fertilisers. It is not ordinarily so explosive in its own right.

The secondary explosion is more puzzling still. An early explanation was that it involved warehoused nitrates exploding , or other stored “highly explosive material” One of the most common nitrates in industrial use is ammonium nitrate , used in fertilisers. It is not ordinarily so explosive in its own right.

In 1947, Brest was shaken by the explosion of the Norwegian freighter Ocean Liberty which was carrying 3000 tonnes of the substance. Results: 22 dead and 500 injured.

Almost twenty years ago, on September 21, 2001, some 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrates stacked in bulk in a hangar at the AZF chemical plant, in the southern suburbs of Toulouse, suddenly exploded. A wind of death and desolation blew the fourth city in France: 31 people died, and the explosion was heard 80 km around.

In the United States too, a terrible explosion at the West Fertilizer fertilizer plant in West Texas killed 15 people in 2013. A stockpile of ammonium nitrates exploded due to an arson attack ; the absence of storage standards had been questioned by the investigators.

Ammonium nitrate can also be used in civilian (quarry, etc.) or military (mines) explosive devices. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a bomb made from two tons of the fertilizer in front of a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.

The French Embassy in Beirut has opened the following telephone line for nationals based in Beirut: +961 1420 292

Reports: Lebanon's leaders warned in July about port explosives .
Letter warning Beirut could 'be destroyed' reportedly sent to prime minister and president by port security officials.Two weeks later, the industrial chemicals went up in a massive explosion that obliterated most of the port and swaths of the capital, killing more than 200 people, injuring 6,000, and destroying 6,000 buildings.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks
usr: 1
This is interesting!