Pressure on officials to clear 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate near Chennai

Topics Chennai | Lebanon

In Beirut, 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely | Photo: Reuters
Around 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate are lying near Chennai. In the wake of the recent explosion in Lebanon, which claimed over 130 people lives and left over 5,000 injured, pressure is building up on officials to clear the cargo.

PMK Chief Ramadoss has called for the disposal of the substance at the earliest. Ammonium nitrate is the same chemical that caused the Beirut blast.

Officials at Chennai Port have said that the material isn't inside the Port premises, but in a container freight station (CFS) outside the port, adding that the import containers were confiscated by The Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch (SIB) Customs.

The consignment, which arrived way back in 2015, was seized by the Customs as the company did not have an import licence. While the cargo has been auctioned delivery is yet to be taken, the officials said. The 37 containers were imported by Amman Chemicals from Korea.

The Customs Department confiscated the entire consignment and had it stored in a Freight Station north of Chennai. The area is not only densely populated, but also houses a large number of chemical factories and power plants.

An employee of the CFS said the ammonium nitrate was safely stored inside the containers and necessary safety precautions have been taken. He confirmed that a portion of the consignment was auctioned off by the Customs.

On Tuesday, a large blast in the Lebanese capital of Beirut killed at least 130 people and injured more than 5,000. Reports have quoted officials blaming highly explosive material stored in a warehouse the past six years for the tragedy. Reports say around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely.

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