Customs department asked to dispose of hazardous goods after Beirut blasts

Beirut after massive explosions in its port area. (Photo: Reuters)
The Customs department must ensure "hazardous, explosive" goods lying in stores are disposed of safely, the revenue department has said after a devastating explosion on Friday killed more than a 100 people in Lebanon's capital Beirut.

The department started a safety campaign Tuesday to dispose of "un-claimed/un-cleared/seized/confiscated goods" by August l. It was launched after reports last week that 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate—the explosive material in the Beirut blasts--were stored in a Container Freight Station (CFS) near Chennai. Customs seized the material in 2015 after the company importing it failed to show a licence. 

A letter signed by Kevin Boban, Officer on Special Duty (Customs) at the Central Board of Indirect Taxes, was sent to all the Principal Chief Commissioner of Customs/ Custom (Preventive, Cental Tax and Customs on Monday.

"Expeditious disposal of goods that are of hazardous or explosive nature is especially necessary to prevent any damage to life and property that may arise. Needless to state, till the un-claimed/un-cleared/seized/confiscated goods are disposed as per law, they need to be kept securely and safely in accordance with all extant instructions," said the letter.

The revenue department asked the Commissioner of Customs to work with the Pollution Control Board or fire safety departments to ensure safe storage and handling of hazardous and explosive materials in a Customs area.

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