The Meeting Place

The Lebanese Explosion and how it can happen anywhere

Bags of fireworks WERE stored alongside highly explosive ammonium nitrate at Beirut's port, worker claims, as furious Lebanese plan major protest against 'incompetent' government

Yusuf Shehadi said dozens of fireworks were stored in the same hangar as thousands of tonnes of the powerful chemical compound in Beirut, Lebanon.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-05/beirut-blast-raises-concern-about-newcastle-ammonium-nitrate/12527546?utm_source=abc_news&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_content=mail&utm_campaign=abc_news 

The deadly Beirut blast that killed more than 100 people has driven fresh calls for a large ammonium nitrate stockpile and plant in Newcastle, storing up to four times the amount reportedly detonated in the blast, to be relocated away from residents.

Key points:Between 6,000 and 12,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate is stored at Orica's Kooragang plant in NewcastleThe plant is within 800m of North Stockton residents and 3km of the Newcastle CBDOrica says safe storage of the chemical is strictly regulated and audited

Lebanon's Interior Minister said 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was in the Beirut blast.

Newcastle's stockpile of between 6,000 to 12,000 tonnes is stored at Orica's Kooragang Island plant in the Port of Newcastle, according to the company.

"That factory is only three kilometres from Newcastle's CBD and only 800 metres from North Stockton residents," said chemical engineer and community campaigner Keith Craig.

"It's a totally inappropriate place to have such a dangerous material produced and stored, and it's something we've been complaining about for many, many years.

Mr Craig said he understood the risk in Australia was much lower, but the catastrophic consequences of any accident were too great.

He is one of 300 residents that form the Stockton Community Action Group, which has long called for the Orica plant to be relocated, or its stockpiles of ammonium nitrate to be significantly reduced.

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Community groups in other neighbouring suburbs such as Mayfield and Tighes Hill have also strongly expressed their concern over the plant's proximity for many years following several major ammonium nitrate explosions around the world.

An ammonium nitrate plant.

Orica's Kooragang Island ammonium nitrate plant is located within 800m of North Stockton residents.(ABC TV, File Photo)

In 2001 an explosion at a French fertiliser factory in Toulouse killed 29 people, and in 2013 an explosion at a fertiliser company in West, Texas, in the United States killed 15 people.

Around 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was stored at both facilities.

Stringent safety regulations

In a statement, Orica said thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate is stored at the site on any given day, but stringent practices are in place to ensure its safe storage and handling.

"Ammonium nitrate storage areas are fire resistant and built exclusively from non-flammable materials," the statement said.

"There are no flammable sources within designated exclusion zones around these areas."

Beirut's ammonium nitrate stockpile

Lebanon's Prime Minister says about 2,750 tonnes of the highly explosive material was stored in a "dangerous warehouse". Here's what else we know.

Read more

The company said operations on Kooragang Island were highly regulated under numerous state and federal standards, and the facility holds a Major Hazard Facility licence.

"In order for this licence to be obtained the site's safety management systems, security arrangements, and emergency response procedures undergo a strict auditing and verification process by SafeWork NSW," it said.

"We regularly undertake site-wide emergency response exercises, including an annual exercise with the local emergency services.

"It's important to note that there has not been a single incident involving the storage of ammonium nitrate in the Kooragang Island site's 51-year history."

Risk cannot be discounted

Professor of engineering and explosion expert Priyan Mendis from the University of Melbourne said the risk of explosion in an Australian facility was low, but cannot be discounted.

"I can understand the concerns of the residents in Newcastle, of course there is a risk," he said.

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Lebanese president suggests cataclysmic blast may have been caused by a 'rocket or bomb' after demonstrators angry at 'corrupt elite' they blame for the explosion clashed with police in night of violence

Lebanese security forces faced off with dozens of protestors last night, furious at the devastating explosion which is seen as a prime example of the government's incompetence.

 

 

Bags of fireworks WERE storedalongside highly explosive ammonium nitrate at Beirut's port, worker claims, as furious Lebanese plan major protest against 'incompetent' government

Former port worker Yusuf Shehadi said dozens of fireworks were stored in BeirutFireworks in same hanger where thousands of tonnes of explosives were kept The blast killed 137 people and wounded more than 5,000 on Tuesday afternoonSome 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in warehouse 12 in the city Protests against the Lebanese regime have been planned for Saturday

Bags of fireworks were stored alongside highly explosive ammonium nitrate at Beirut's port, a former worker has claimed.

Yusuf Shehadi said dozens of fireworks were stored in the same hangar as thousands of tonnes of the powerful chemical compound in the port of Beirut, Lebanon.

Meanwhile, people were out hurling stones at riot police outside Lebanese parliament ahead of a major protest planned in downtown Martyrs' Square on Saturday.

Critics call for an end to the country's political system after Tuesday's blast killed 137 people and wounded more than 5,000.

Mr Shehadi, who emigrated to Canada in March this year, told The Guardian he was instructed by the military to store 2,750 tonnes of the chemical in Warehouse 12. 

 

Yusuf Shehadi said dozens of fireworks were stored in the same hangar as thousands of tonnes of the powerful chemical compound ammonium nitrate (pictured) in Beirut, Lebanon Yusuf Shehadi said dozens of fireworks were stored in the same hangar as thousands of tonnes of the powerful chemical compound ammonium nitrate (pictured) in Beirut, LebanonFootage taken by a woman living near the warehouse showed thousands of sparks shooting into the air  Plumes of black smoke rose above the port

Footage taken by a woman living near the warehouse showed thousands of sparks shooting into the air as plumes of black smoke rose above the port

Search and rescue operations continue to sift through the mangled wreckage of cars and warehouse structures near to the site of the explosion on Tuesday     

Search and rescue operations continue to sift through the mangled wreckage of cars and warehouse structures near to the site of the explosion on Tuesday

Warehouses full of goods including cars in the immediate area surround the blast were completely destroyed by the impact of the explosion the size of a small nuclear bomb  

Warehouses full of goods including cars in the immediate area surround the blast were completely destroyed by the impact of the explosion the size of a small nuclear bomb

On top of the dangerous chemicals, fireworks were confiscated by customs in 2009-10 and sent to be stored in the same hangar.

'There were 30 to 40 nylon bags of fireworks inside warehouse 12,' he said, adding that he had personally seem them being delivered on a forklift.

'They were on the left-hand side when you entered the door. I used to complain about this. There was also humidity there. This was a disaster waiting to happen.

 

Mr Shehadi said customs complained every week about the dangers of storing the chemicals so close to peoples' homes - but the army refused to move the ammonium nitrate.

He revealed his former colleagues told him workers were trying to fix a gate outside warehouse 12 with an electrical tool just 30 minutes before the blast.

Mr Shehadi said he thought it was this work that caused the tragedy.

Protests are expected tomorrow as anger builds in the city against officials who critics say did nothing to prevent the disaster.

Anti-government protesters hurl stones at Lebanese riot police during a protest against the Lebanese politicians who have ruled the country for decades, outside of the Lebanese Parliament in downtown Beirut on Friday evening     

Anti-government protesters hurl stones at Lebanese riot police during a protest against the Lebanese politicians who have ruled the country for decades, outside of the Lebanese Parliament in downtown Beirut on Friday evening

People were out hurling stones at riot police outside Lebanese parliament ahead of a major protest planned in downtown Martyrs' Square on Saturday     

People were out hurling stones at riot police outside Lebanese parliament ahead of a major protest planned in downtown Martyrs' Square on Saturday

Damaged cars are seen at the site of Tuesday's blast, at Beirut's port area, Lebanon, August 7     

Damaged cars are seen at the site of Tuesday's blast, at Beirut's port area, Lebanon, August 7

Several firefighters tragically seen attempting to stop a fire at the port moments before the devastating explosion are believed to have died in the blast     

Several firefighters tragically seen attempting to stop a fire at the port moments before the devastating explosion are believed to have died in the blast

The impact of the blast shook buildings, blew out windows for miles around and even threw cars metres into the air     

The impact of the blast shook buildings, blew out windows for miles around and even threw cars metres into the air

A satellite image made available by MAXAR Technologies shows capsized Orient Queen ship after the major explosion    

A satellite image made available by MAXAR Technologies shows capsized Orient Queen ship after the major explosion

Lebanese Red Cross members walk amongst the rubble at the site of Tuesday's blast    

Lebanese Red Cross members walk amongst the rubble at the site of Tuesday's blast

Burned-out cars. Two massive explosions in the port area of Beirut on August 4 resulted in a shockwave devastating multiple nearby neighborhoods, with more than 100 citizens killed    

Burned-out cars. Two massive explosions in the port area of Beirut on August 4 resulted in a shockwave devastating multiple nearby neighborhoods, with more than 100 citizens killed

Hospital capacity was reduced by 500 beds, shipping containers filled with personal protective equipment were destroyed and the homes of 100,000 children faced significant damage in the blast.

Footage taken by a woman living near the warehouse showed thousands of sparks shooting into the air as plumes of black smoke rose above the port. 

Crackles that sounded like fireworks could be heard just seconds before an already blazing fire erupted into an explosion as the ammonium nitrate was set alight.

The woman was sent flying backwards by the force of the shock wave as buildings were destroyed and glass shattered.

On Thursday evening Lebanese police officers fired tear gas near parliament as protests mounted.

Lebanese security forces faced off with dozens of anti-government demonstrators as the wreckage from the explosion still littered the entire area. 

Anthony Elghossain, a Lebanese-American lawyer, said: 'Lebanese leaders have killed a country, buried it and p****d on its grave. That's what people are feeling right now.

People help to clean debris after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts   +31  

People help to clean debris after a fire at a warehouse with explosives at the Port of Beirut led to massive blasts 

An aerial view of ruined structures at the port, damaged by an explosion a day earlier   +31  

An aerial view of ruined structures at the port, damaged by an explosion a day earlier

Shipping containers filled with personal protective equipment were destroyed and the homes of 100,000 children faced significant damage in the blast   +31  

Shipping containers filled with personal protective equipment were destroyed and the homes of 100,000 children faced significant damage in the blast

Members of Qatar's Internal Security Force's search and rescue unit joined their Lebanese counterparts in looking for survivors on the site of the massive blast at the Beirut port   +31  

Members of Qatar's Internal Security Force's search and rescue unit joined their Lebanese counterparts in looking for survivors on the site of the massive blast at the Beirut port

The Lebanese Red Cross estimated dozens of people could still be buried under debris and wreckage, estimated to total $5billion in damage   +31  

The Lebanese Red Cross estimated dozens of people could still be buried under debris and wreckage, estimated to total $5billion in damage

In an instant, the blast left destruction likened to that caused by the country's 1975-1990 civil war, levelling buildings several hundred metres (yards) away   +31  

In an instant, the blast left destruction likened to that caused by the country's 1975-1990 civil war, levelling buildings several hundred metres (yards) away

Emergency workers sent by Russia continue their search and rescue efforts in the ruins of a grain silo destroyed by the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday   +31  

Emergency workers sent by Russia continue their search and rescue efforts in the ruins of a grain silo destroyed by the explosion in Beirut on Tuesday 

'For 30 years people have been telling themselves it can't get much worse but look at it now ... they played hot potato with a megabomb,' he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. 

The Lebanese investigation into the disaster is expected to be ready by Sunday but some sixteen people linked to the port including its general manager have already been placed under house arrest.  

The country's president, Michel Aoun, said the cause of the blast was still unclear and did not rule out the possibility of a hostile act.

'The cause has not been determined yet,' Aoun said. 'There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act.'

Aoun also said that Lebanon's 'paralysed' political system should be reconsidered in the nod to the protests which blame Tuesday's explosion on years of mismanagement and corruption. 

  +31   The blast, caused by a stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate which caught fire, has threatened to reignite anti-government protests in Lebanon. Pictured, riot police in the early hours of this morning   +31  

The blast, caused by a stockpile of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate which caught fire, has threatened to reignite anti-government protests in Lebanon. Pictured, riot police in the early hours of this morning

 

 

 

Someone still had to ignite the fireworks, will be interesting to hear the results of the inquiry. 

 

Found this interesting article:

Scientists categorize Earth as a 'toxic planet'

Humans emit more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year, in a toxic avalanche that is harming people and life everywhere on the planet.

"Earth, and all life on it, are being saturated with man-made chemicals in an event unlike anything in the planet's entire history," says Julian Cribb, author of 'Surviving the 21st Century' (Springer International 2017).

"Every moment of our lives we are exposed to thousands of these substances. They enter our bodies with each breath, meal or drink we take, the clothes and cosmetics we wear, the things we encounter every day in our homes, workplaces and travel.

Mr Cribb says that the poisoning of the planet through man-made  emissions is probably the largest human impact – and the one that is least understood or regulated. It is one of ten major existential risks now confronting humanity, he describes in Surviving the 21st Century.

"The European Chemicals agency estimates there are more than 144,000 man-made chemicals in existence. The US Department of Health estimates 2000 new chemicals are being released every year. The UN Environment Program warns most of these have never been screened for human health safety," he says.

"The World Health Organisation estimates that 12 million people – one in 4 – die every year from diseases caused by 'air water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change and ultraviolet radiation', all of which result from human activity."

Examples of the toxic avalanche include:

Manufactured chemicals – 30 million tonnes a year

Plastic pollution of oceans – 8mt/yrHazardous waste – 400 mt/yr

Coal, oil, gas etc – 15 gigatonnes (billion tonnes) a year

Lost soil – 75 Gt/yrMetals and materials – 75 Gt/yr

Mining and mineral wastes -"Industrial toxins are now routinely found in new-born babies, in mother's milk, in the food chain, in domestic drinking water worldwide. They have been detected from the peak of Mt Everest (where the snow is so polluted it doesn't meet drinking water standards) to the depths of the oceans, from the hearts of our cities to the remotest islands.

"The mercury found in the fish we eat, and in polar bears in the Arctic, is fallout from the burning of coal and increases every year.

"There is global concern at the death of honeybees from agricultural pesticides and the potential impact on the world food supply, as well as all insect life - and on the birds, frogs and fish which in turn depend on insects."

Mr Cribb says an issue of chemical contamination largely ignored by governments and corporations is that chemicals act in combination, occur in mixtures and undergo constant change. "A given chemical may not occur in toxic amounts in one place – but combined with thousands of other chemicals it may contribute a much larger risk to the health and safety of the whole population and the environment."

Medical science is increasingly linking issues such as obesity, cancers, heart disease and brain disorders such as autism, ADHD and depression to the growing volume of toxic substances to which humans are exposed daily.

"Despite attempts to regulate chemical use, only 21 out of 144,000 chemicals have so far been banned. In countries such as the United States, attempts are apparently under way to roll back chemical regulation, exposing the population to ever-greater health risks."

Mr Cribb says solutions to the threat of global poisoning exist, but require the co-operation of consumers, government and industry worldwide.

"First, we need a new Human Right – a right not to be poisoned. Without such a right, there will never again be a day in history when humans are free from man-made poisons.

"Second we need a global alliance of consumers who will reject toxic products or products made with toxic processes – and give industry the economic incentive to switch to 'green chemistry' and other safer systems.

"Our communities need to adopt 'zero waste', where nothing is discarded but all substances are re-used and toxic ones made safe."

"People need to understand that these poisons are only released because we as consumers send our dollar demands to industry to make things as cheaply as possible. This takes no account of the damage to human life and health. So we are all, in a sense, getting away with murder.

"If consumers demand safe, healthy, green products and are willing to pay industry a little more to make them safely, we can cleanse our planet within a generation.

"We all end up paying chemical toxicity one way or another. It's a simple choice – pay at the supermarket, or pay at the hospice."

Surviving the 21st Century describes what humanity as a whole must do, and what individuals can do to turn back the toxic tide.

 

 

Thanks a very interesting article and toxic planet describes the earh well.

In my opinion it is due to overpopulation

..... people want to live longer and breed more

..... hence humans are just another vermin on this planet who think they are above other animals.

 

I really reccommend the book by Julian Cribb, Surviving the 21st Century it is not only shocking but also offers a lot of solutions that we can do as the human race and as individuals, see if your local library has it (it is a bit expensive to buy the book, but ebook would be cheaper).

 

 

According to news service Al Jazeera, Lebanese authorities have taken 16 people into custody as part of the investigation.

At least 154 people were killed in Tuesday’s explosion and more than 6,000 others injured but many people are still missing.

Image

This is the little boy that was killed in the blast, he is an Australian.

A toddler has been revealed as the Australian killed in the Beirut blast.

Two-year-old Isaac Oehlers was among at least 154 people who lost their lives in a “nuclear-scale” explosion this week.

The blast in the Lebanese capital city sent a mushroom cloud into the sky, injuring thousands, with more bodies found in the rubble.

 

In a statement tonight, Isaac’s family said their boy will be “deeply missed”.

“We are heartbroken by the sudden and tragic loss of our beautiful boy following the disaster in Beirut,” the statement said.

“The family would like to thank everyone who has offered comfort and support to us.

“(We) would like to express our condolences to everyone in Lebanon who is suffering from this devastating tragedy.”

Lebanese president Michel Aoun said blast probe looking into possible "external interference" in addition to simple negligence or an accident.

 

How sad.

Definately has been some sort of "external interference". I just hope that the corrupt Government does not blame the wrong people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KetI0i7aLeo

Beirut explosion: Macron mobbed on shattered streets of LebanonEmmanuel Macron visits Beirut: Can there be a 'French solution' for Lebanon?

After the massive explosion in Beirut, France's President Emmanuel Macron has pledged support for the people in Lebanon. But what can the protective power really achieve?

    French President Emmanuel Macron gestures as he visits a devastated street of Beirut (Getty Images/AFP/T. Camus)

 

It was no coincidence that France's President Emmanuel Macron became the first western head of state to tour the remains of Beirut on Thursday (August 6). France's ties with Lebanon go back a long time. When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I, France was handed a mandate to administer the infrastructure of Lebanon by the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations).

Those ties remained in place after Lebanon's independence in 1943: To this day, parts of the country's elite speak French, and at many schools, French is spoken in class. A vast number of wealthy Lebanese own a second home in France, and Christian groups in Lebanon still see France as some kind of protecting power.

Read moreWhat makes ammonium nitrate so dangerous?

'Not post-colonial interference'

During his visit to Beirut, Macron promised direct aid, but he also called for a new political system. Does this amount to an improper interference by the former power? No, said Maximilian Felsch, a professor at Beirut's Haigazian University: "France is interested in maintaining good relations to francophone countries in the Middle East and in Africa."

If France was now prepared to help Lebanon in the current crisis, that would certainly meet with approval in the country, Felsch said. "I don't hear any voices at this point who interpret this as post-colonial interference."

Emmanuel Macron visits Beirut on August 6 (picture-alliance/dpa/AP/T. Camus)

Macron called for a "new political order" for battered Lebanon

Macron himself told journalists after his visit that what was at stake was not a "French solution" but a "new political order" for the battered country.

The French president announced his country would organize an international donor conference for Lebanon. By this time, three airplanes carrying aid had already arrived from France, while a battleship with aid workers and medical supplies on board was also is on its way. Macron said he'd be back in Beirut on September 1 to review the situation.

'Some foreign power'

The government of Lebanon was incompetent at all levels, said Felsch, whose flat in Beirut was severely damaged in Tuesday's devastating explosion. Affiliation with a religious group is the key criterion when it comes to filling political posts, and those in power are constantly fighting.

He added that the country was broke, the power and water supply as well as waste disposal were not functioning, while inflation was spiralling and the economy was in ruins. "In a situation like this, it's perfectly understandable that people hope to get rid of their political leadership. Anything is better than this. So I can understand that the majority of the Lebanese people hope that — if this was at all possible — some foreign power will take control of the country."

          Watch video01:19Lebanon faces food security challenge after Beirut blast

Middle East expert Elie Abouaoun, however, believes that it's unlikely that France could assume that role. Abouaoun, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programs at the Tunis office of the USIP peace research institute, told DW: "I think that France has lost a lot of leverage compared to, let's say, 20 or 30 years ago — for many reasons, not only in Lebanon but in the region in general."

He still sees "some sort of an emotional lifeline" between France and Lebanon, which could have a bearing on public opinion in Lebanon. "But we've seen on many occasions that the political decision-making in Lebanon is not really influenced or affected in any way by what the French say," he added.

Hezbollah more important than France

Considerably more important, Abouaoun said, was the influence exerted by the Shiite Hezbollah party, which is supported by Iran and considered a terrorist organization by the European Union. Hezbollah has a stake in the government, maintains its own militias and also controls the port of Beirut, where the highly dangerous ammonium nitrate that allegedly caused Tuesday's catastrophic explosion had been stored for years.

Many Lebanese believed that the country's entire corrupt establishment must be ousted, said the Middle East expert, who analyzed the French role as follows: "I don't see France really embracing the demands of the majority of the population, which are to basically get rid of the corrupt political establishment. They have relationships with some of the leadership. And this would also put another limitation on how much France can really become the main influencer in the region."

Beirut: Protests in June 2020 (picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Protests in June: Many people in Lebanon were already unhappy with their government before the explosion

He added that anti-establishment forces within the population had not yet reached "critical mass." The established parties, which were operating along religious lines still had support, but it was diminishing. Like Sunnis, Shiites make up 27% of the population, while 39% are Christian, and 5% are Druze.

Other nations muscling in

Among regional powers, Iran is certainly the most influential in Lebanon, Elie Abouaoun said. Saudi-Arabia had lost influence during the last couple of years while the US had mounted a comeback only a few months ago. Russia's and Turkey's efforts had not been successful until now.

But the French president's new initiative would probably not move those political weights around very much, the Middle East expert estimated.

Many other nations, including the US and Germany, have also pledged aid. The European Union has mobilized millions of euros as well. This Saturday, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, will travel to Beirut as a representative of the EU member states, and he would prefer a coordinated political initiative launched by all the European nations, including France, instead of Macron going it alone.

          Watch video06:36Lebanon's women rise up

Maximilian Felsch of the Haigazian University in Beirut is skeptical about subsequent political developments in battered Lebanon. Conflicts between religious groups could erupt, particularly as Hezbollah was apparently responsible for storing the explosive material and primarily Christian neighborhoods around the port were destroyed.

"There is the risk that the current crisis will quickly spiral out of control and turn into some kind of conflict between religious confessions," Felsch said: On the one hand there were Christians, who are now asking for France's protection, on the other there were Shiites, who are keen on maintaining Hezbollah's influence  and, with it, direct influence from Iran.

 

 

 

 

Definately has been some sort of "external interference". — Incognito.

Not just a welder setting off a fire that then spread to the warehouse then?????

Well the plot thickens, never knew France had ties with Lebanon, now we see it turning into a big political thing, sounding more fishy everyday, what tragedy to those poor people who have been effected.

Demonstrators hurl Molotov cocktails at riot police in Beirut as Lebanese army retakes control of the Foreign Ministry using rubber bullets amid clashes in wake of blast

 

Chaotic scenes returned to Beirut as clashes between anti-government protestors demanding regime change and security forces saw buildings damaged by Tuesday huge explosion set on fire.

 

Sounding like they are on the brink of civil war, terrible.

World leaders pledge 250m euros to rebuild Beirut but insist the Lebanese government must commit to 'reforms' in the longer term to get any more

Fifteen government leaders, including Donald Trump took part in a conference call hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and the UN.

 

Wow considering all these people pleadged $955 million to rebuild Notre-Dam Catherderal....

Lebanese PM and his cabinet RESIGN over explosion that killed 160: Pressure mounts on Hezbollah-backed President as government collapses and country teeters on the brink amid furious protests over disaster Beirut Explosion: Lebanese Prime Minister resigns over blast

Lebanon's prime minister and his cabinet resigned tonight in the wake of the devastating Beirut explosion which has killed more than 160 people. Hassan Diab told the nation in a televised address: 'Today we are heeding the people and their demands to hold accountable those responsible for a disaster.' The Prime Minister blamed a 'corrupt' political class that has ruled Lebanon for more than 30 years for the August 4 explosion. 'This is why today I announce the resignation of the government,' Diab said. Several ministers had earlier quit the cabinet amid fury over the blast and the Hezbollah-backed President Michel Aoun - who has rejected calls for an international probe into the disaster - is also facing calls to quit. The resignations do not force Aoun to step down bu they will cause a legislative paralysis in Lebanon's French-inspired system.

Well things are moving fast, sounds like it was a terrorist act.

What a chaotic situation. Imagine many in Australia will be very concerned as well.

Lebanon has been a source of migrants to Australia since the 1870s. 230,880 Australians, about 1% of the total population, claimed some Lebanese ancestry in 2016. The 2016 census reported 76,450 Lebanese-born people in Australia, with nearly 66,000 of those resident in Greater Sydney.

There was a question about the storage of ammonium nitrate in the Newcastle area with some concern about the safety of nearby residents. For a start, ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer. It can be used as an explosive but needs the addition of certain other materials for that to occur. The storage in Newcastle keeps ammonium nitrate in an inert state and the other materials needed to convert it into an explosive are never stored anywhere nearby.

Ammonium nitrate is produced and stored in Newcastle and the product is continually depleted from sales to agriculture and mining. It is heavily regulated, inspected regularly and stored in safe, secure warehouses. The chances of an explosion is so remote that it can almost, but not be classified as impossible. What happened in Beirut is tragic but to suggest that a similar explosion in Australia is possible has little foundation.

Thanks for that clarificaton Horace, good to know. And to think they put this poison in the soil that grows our food (well hopefully not my food because I buy organic).

If you took the time to do a bit of research, Incognito, you would find that NH4NO3, or ammonium nitrate, is a combination of Hydrogen, Nitrogen and Oxygen, all natural elements, not poison. Using this combination is merely replacing the elements taken from the soil by plants grown previously.

Okay thanks Horace.

Of course this could happen here(or in Newcaslte at least). All the "precautions ' in the world will not stop that one in a "miilion" occurence and only takes one.

Check on the history of ammonium nitrate explosions in the past and you will se they have occured before.

Yes Horace, they are all natural elements. So is oil, its a natural hydocarbon, would you dump your sump oil in your garden?

Lebanon's prime minister was warned about chemical dump two weeks before massive Beirut blast

The industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 building.

Lebanese security officials warned the prime minister and president last month that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in Beirut’s port posed a security risk and could destroy the capital if it exploded, according to documents seen by Reuters and senior security sources.

Just over two weeks later, the industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port, killed at least 163 people, injured 6,000 more and destroyed some 6,000 buildings, according to municipal authorities.

A report by the General Directorate of State Security about events leading up to the explosion included a reference to a private letter sent to President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Hassan Diab on 20 July.

While the content of the letter was not in the report seen by Reuters, a senior security official said it summed up the findings of a judicial investigation launched in January which concluded the chemicals needed to be secured immediately.

The state security report, which confirmed the correspondence to the president and the prime minister, has not previously been reported.

“There was a danger that this material, if stolen, could be used in a terrorist attack,” the official told Reuters.

“At the end of the investigation, Prosecutor General Ghassan Oweidat prepared a final report which was sent to the authorities,” he said, referring to the letter sent to the prime minister and president by the General Directorate of State Security, which oversees port security.

“I warned them that this could destroy Beirut if it exploded,” said the official, who was involved in writing the letter and declined to be named.

 

Outside the offices of Lebanon's Parliament, protesters demand the resignation of Lebanon's Prime Minister and his cabinet.Outside the offices of Lebanon's Parliament, protesters demand the resignation of Lebanon's prime minister and his cabinet.AAP

 

Reuters could not independently confirm his description of the letter.

The prime minister’s office and the presidency did not respond to requests for comment about the 20 July letter.

The prosecutor general did not respond to requests for comment.

'Do what is necessary'

The correspondence could fuel further criticism and public fury that the blast is just the latest, if not most dramatic, example of government negligence and corruption that has already pushed Lebanon to economic collapse.

As protests over the blast raged in Lebanon on Monday, Mr Diab’s government resigned, though it will remain as a caretaker administration until a new cabinet is formed.

The rebuilding of Beirut alone is expected to cost billions of dollars in a country already effectively bankrupt.

 

Mr Aoun confirmed last week that he had been informed about the material. He told reporters he had directed the secretary general of the Supreme Defence Council, an umbrella group of Lebanon’s security and military agencies chaired by the president, to “do what is necessary”.

“(The state security service) said it is dangerous. I am not responsible! I don’t know where it was put and I didn’t know how dangerous it was. I have no authority to deal with the port directly. There is a hierarchy and all those who knew should have known their duties to do the necessary,” Mr Aoun said.

Many questions remain over why the shipment of ammonium nitrate docked in Beirut in late 2013. Even more baffling is why such a huge stash of dangerous material, used in bombs and fertilisers, was allowed to remain there for so long.

The letter sent to Lebanon’s president and prime minister followed a string of memos and letters sent to the country’s courts over the previous six years by port, customs and security officials, repeatedly urging judges to order the removal of the ammonium nitrate from its position so close to the city centre.

 The General Directorate of State Security’s report seen by Reuters said many requests had been submitted, without giving an exact number. It said the port’s manifest department sent several written requests to the customs directorate up until 2016 asking them to call on a judge to order the material be re-exported immediately.

“But until now, no decision has been issued over this matter. After consulting one of our chemical specialists, the expert confirmed that this material is dangerous and is used to produce explosives,” the General Directorate of State Security report said.

Hazardous material

The road to last week’s tragedy began seven years ago, when the Rhosus, a Russian-chartered, Moldovan-flagged vessel carrying ammonium nitrate from Georgia to Mozambique, docked in Beirut to try to take on extra cargo to raise the fees for passage through the Suez Canal, according to the ship’s captain.

Port authorities impounded the Rhosus on December 2013 by judicial order due to outstanding debts owed to two companies that filed claims in Beirut courts, the state security report showed.

In May 2014, the ship was deemed un-seaworthy and its cargo was unloaded in October 2014 and warehoused in what was known as Hangar 12.

Moldova lists the owner of the ship as Panama-based Briarwood Corp. Briarwood could not immediately be reached for comment.

In February 2015, Nadim Zwain, a judge from the Summary Affairs Court, which deals with urgent issues, appointed an expert to inspect the cargo, according to the security report.

  The report said the expert concluded that the material was hazardous and, through the port authorities, requested it be transferred to the army. Reuters could not independently confirm the expert’s account.

Lebanese army command rejected the request and recommended the chemicals be transferred or sold to the privately-owned Lebanese Explosives Company, the state security report said.

The report did not say why the army had refused to accept the cargo. A security official told Reuters it was because they didn’t need it. The army declined to comment.

The explosive company’s management told Reuters it had not been interested in purchasing confiscated material and that the firm had its own suppliers and government import licences.

 From then on, customs and security officials wrote to judges roughly every six months asking for the removal of the material, according to the requests seen by Reuters.

Judges and customs officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

A number of customs and port officials have since been detained as part of the investigation into the blast.

'Bad storage and bad judgement'

In January 2020, a judge launched an official investigation after it was discovered that Hangar 12 was unguarded, and had a hole in its southern wall and one of its doors dislodged, meaning the hazardous material was at risk of being stolen.

In his final report following the investigation, Prosecutor General Oweidat “gave orders immediately” to ensure hangar doors and holes were repaired and security provided, a second high-ranking security official who also requested anonymity said.

On 4 June, based on those orders, state security instructed port authorities to provide guards at Hangar 12, appoint a director for the warehouse and secure all the doors and repair the hole in the southern wall, according to the state security report and security officials.

The port authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday Aug.6, 2020. French President Emmanuel Macron came in Beirut to offer French support to Lebanon after the deadly port blast.(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)A soldier walks at the devastated site of the explosion in the port of Beirut.AP

 

“The maintenance started and (port authorities) sent a team of Syrian workers (but) there was no one supervising them when they entered to fix the holes,” the security official said.

During the work, sparks from the welding took hold and fire started to spread, the official said.

“Given that there were fireworks stored in the same hangar, after an hour a big fire was set off by the fireworks and that spread to the material that exploded when the temperature exceeded 210 degrees,” the high-ranking security official said.

The official blamed the port authorities for not supervising the repair crew and for storing fireworks alongside a vast deposit of high explosives.

Reuters could not determine what happened to the workers repairing the hangar.

“Only because the hangar faces the sea, the impact of the explosion was reduced. Otherwise, all of Beirut would have been destroyed,” he said.

“The issue is all about negligence, irresponsibility, bad storage and bad judgement.”

So they were warned and did nothing and now they are blaming the Syrians doing some maintenance with welding, are we to believe this?

Sign this please for the Newcastle people

 

Newcastle's stockpile of between 6,000 to 12,000 tonnes are stored at Orica's Kooragang Island plant in the Port of Newcastle, according to the company.

 

 

 https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/remove-dangerous-ammonium-nitrate-stockpile-from-newcastle-now

 

Signed

PlanB

Somehow your link keeps taking me to the Meeting Place ???

 ....so I used the one below .... they both look the same ??

https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/remove-dangerous-ammonium-nitrate-stockpile-from-newcastle-now

 

I signed, just copied and pasted in another window to get to it. Weird how it went to the meeting place though.

Gee thanks for that Suze -- sorry for the muck up all

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