Nearly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the port of Beirut were allegedly responsible for the impressive explosion of this Mars in the Lebanese capital, which caused deaths of more than 1
What is ammonium nitrate?
Ammonium nitrate is a white, odorless salt that is used as a base for many fertilizers. nitrogenous in the form of granules and also a component of explosives. It is a colorless and hygroscopic compound, very soluble in water, formed by nitrate and ammonium ions.
Ammonium nitrate is obtained by neutralizing nitric acid with ammonium hydroxide after evaporation of the water.
In all cases, ammonium nitrate is an unstable compound. That is why many European countries are asking for it to be added calcium carbonate to ammonium nitrate to create safer calcium ammonium nitrate.
IN THE U.S, ammonium nitrate regulations were tightened after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, where two tons of that chemical were used, leaving 168 dead. Just like in France, where 300 tons of that chemical exploded prematurely causes 31 deaths.
Why is it so pelIgro ammonium nitrate?
Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, told the BBC that ammonium nitrate is relatively safe to handle, In all cases, if you have a large amount of material for a long time, it begins to decompose.
“The real problem is that over time it absorbs small pieces of moisture and eventually becomes a huge rock. This makes it more dangerous because if a fire reaches it, the chemical reaction will be much more intense,” he said. says the expert.
Ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut It was stored for several years in a warehouse very close to neighborhoods. he Lebanese Prime Minister He explained that it was “impermissible for a transport of ammonium nitrate, estimated at two thousand 750 tonnes, to have been in a warehouse for six years, without precautionary measures.”
“This is unacceptable and we can not remain silent on this issue.” added according to comments reported by a spokesman at a press conference.
What happened in the Beirut explosion?
A first strong explosion in the Beirut port area took place at 06:00 on Tuesday, followed by a fire and a few detonations before a second, more powerful explosion, which caused a huge cloud of smoke in the sky. mushrooms and collapsed the harbor and the surrounding buildings.
The explosions were felt as far as Cyprus more than 200 kilometers away and were picked up by sensors from the American Institute of Geophysics (USGS) as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake.