Post Beirut, Tonnes of Ammonium Nitrate Near Chennai Causes Panic

Nearly 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate has remained in storage for years under the custody of the Customs in Chennai.

Updated
India
2 min read
Nearly 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate has remained in storage for years under the custody of the Customs in Chennai. Representative image only. 
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Two days after large amounts of ammonium nitrate caused a catastrophe, killing at least 135 people and injuring about 5,000 others in Beirut, concerns have been raised about the chemical stored in Chennai. Nearly 700 tonnes of the explosive chemical has remained in storage for years under the custody of the Customs Department, in the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Officials said this large consignment of the chemical was seized at the Chennai port in 2015 and has been lying there since.

“Chennai customs has seized 740 MTS of imported ammonium nitrate due to import policy restrictions prescribed by the Government of India under the Customs Act 1962 read with Explosive Act 1884 and Ammonium Nitrate rules, 2012,” read a notice from the customs department.

The cargo has been kept in safe custody at a Container Freight Station (CFS) in Manali, which is located approximately 20 km away from the city and there is no residential locality within 2 km of the CFS, the notice said.

The customs authorities have assured that all safety measures are being taken and is being monitored.

“The ammonium nitrate is under process by Chennai customs and was part of a 697-tonne consignment seized in November 2015. The remaining was washed away during December 2015 floods,” custom officials said, reported ANI.

The authorities have denied any delay in disposal. “The process of disposal of the said cargo is taken up promptly by the customs and e-auction has already been completed. The disposal of the said cargo will be done within short period, following all safety measures,” the notice read.

PMK Chief Dr Ramadoss on Thursday demanded safe disposal of the explosives.

MP Kanimozhi of DMK, too, called for action on a war-footing, taking public safety into consideration.

Other ports in Tamil Nadu have been instructed to check if there are any consignments with ammonium nitrate stored in their warehouses.

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