After Beirut, Must Chennai Worry About Ammonium Nitrate Stockpile?

What can cause ammonium nitrate explosions? Are there any reasons for Chennai to be alarmed? 

1 min read

A consignment of 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that has been lying in a Chennai customs warehouse for around five years is raising some red flags just days after Beirut's catastrophic blast.

On 4 August, an estimated 2,750-tonnes of ammonium nitrate, that had been stored reportedly for over six years in a port warehouse in Beirut, without proper safety protocols, rocked Lebanon's capital, leading to the tragic loss of over a 100 lives and injured over 5,000 people, with several others still feared trapped in the rubble.

Video footage from the scene of the explosion shows a thick cloud of smoke as the blast obliterated the warehouse where the chemical was stored, destroyed entire districts in the capital, and flattened buildings leaving a crater approximately 140 metres wide.

And that's what is raising alarms about the ammonium nitrate stockpile near Chennai, a city home to around 70 lakh people. In a tweet on 6 August, PMK leader 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 should be safely disposed of and used for other purposes such as composting!"

What can cause ammonium nitrate explosions? Are there any reasons for Chennai to be alarmed? Tune in to The Big Story!

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