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Beirut Blast – August 2020

Beirut Blast – August 2020

The tragic Beirut Blast has drawn varying reactions from anguish to anger or despair to dismay. And naturally our hearts go out to the residents and victims of the City of Beirut whose lives have been devastated with this incident.

As reports emerged that Ammonium Nitrate was the Chemical tragically involved in the explosion and following devastation to the port and city of Beirut, previous world events involving this product immediately flash in our minds. From Tianjin, China to Texas, USA or from Ryongchon, North Korea to Oppau, Germany, memories stream through and quite instinctively I can see Ports and Ship Owners in their boardroom huddles asking each other the pointed questions on what should be our approach on Ammonium Nitrate handling and storage going forward.

One would expect, quite instinctively, the reactions to incidents of such magnitude has to express grave concern with this product at the bare minimum for those who do not have intimate knowledge of Ammonium Nitrate and its properties. Suffice to say the Explosives Grade Ammonium Nitrate industry is highly regulated in most countries as well as globally through the UN Recommendation on the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Manual of Test and Criteria, Model Regulations Volume 1 and 2, International Maritime Dangerous Goods Regulations, IMO Recommendations on the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods and Related Activities in Port Areas etc. etc.

In my opinion, it is not the lack of adequate regulatory control (plenty of which is in place) but the lack of the application of knowledge and experience that leads to incidents such as this. The key here is “application” – knowledge and experience exceeding perhaps a 100 years is out there but it just needs to be sought out to avert such disasters.

When in doubt, I would urge you to reach out to the experts in your network before you take action or make a decision on a new path forward with Ammonium Nitrate. Alternatively, you can contact myself and I will be either happy to assist or put you in touch with a relevant expert in that area. We need to collectively support the industry with our collective knowledge and experience over a hundred years as millions of tons of Ammonium Nitrate will continue to be moved from Plant to Pit to keep mining ticking along!

Brian Devaraj