Pivdennyi, Ukraine (PortSEurope) August 10, 2020 – According to local media, in the Ukrainian northwestern Black Sea port of Pivdennyi there are some 9,600 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in the open air on a ship and near a storage house.
State-owned commercial port operator Pivdennyi (Pivdenny, formerly Yuzhny) in the Odesa region claimed that the ammonium nitrate (which is three times more the volume that obliterated the port of Beirut in Lebanon) in moorings No. 1 and No. 2 poses no explosion risk.
The administration also said that the ammonium nitrate, which is being stored in the port, is packed in large bags in compliance with technical requirements and that transshipment of such dangerous cargo is carried out in accordance with international regulations for the sea transportation of dangerous goods.
The ammonium nitrate is on board Trump D (former SeaBreeze) grain carrier, which has been detained in the port for over two years.
It is also reported that the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, has asked Infrastructure Minister Vladyslav Krykliy, Head of the State Emergency Service Mykola Chechotkin, acting Head of the State Labor Service Vitaliy Sazhyenko, Chief of the National Police Ihor Klymenko, as well as the heads of the regional governments and Kyiv city administration to check and report on the ammonium nitrate storage conditions in Ukraine by September 15, 2020.
Pivdennyi is the busiest Ukrainian port with 31.2 million tons of processed cargo in January-June 2020 (+33.5% compared to H1, 2019). The second-largest port in the country – Mykolayiv (Nikolaev, Nikolayev) – handled only 14.4 million tons (-6.0%) in H1, 2020.
Ukrainian media also reported that more than 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were stored in Black Sea port of Mykolayiv – the cargo was allegedly also arrested in October 2018. Quoting local sources, news outlets claim that the cargo was removed in 2019, but do not specify to where.
Beirut port, Lebanon’s busiest, was destroyed after what is believed to be the largest ever explosion of conventional explosives in a warehouse there on August 4. Two blasts at 15:00 GMT on August 4 flattened the harbour front and surrounding buildings. Seismologists measured the event, which blew out windows at the city’s international airport 9 km away, as the equivalent of a 3.3 magnitude earthquake.
More than 200 people died, some 100 are missing and over 5,000 were injured in the explosion that is attributed to 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored for years in unsafe conditions at a warehouse in the port. Some 300,000 people cannot live in their damaged homes. Many of those killed and injured were port and custom employees.
Worldwide port authorities are checking their warehouses for stored ammonium nitrate and other dangerous chemicals, especially in abandoned ships and containers.
Some of the deadliest ammonium nitrate explosions:
- 1921 – an explosion of 4,500 tonnes of ammonium sulphate and nitrate fertiliser at a plant in Oppau, Germany, killed 565 people.
- 1947 – Texas City saw the deadliest industrial accident in U.S. history, when 581 people were killed when more than 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonated on-board a ship which had docked in the port.
- 2001 – an explosion at a warehouse containing some 300 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed 30 and injured 2,500 in Toulouse, France.
- 2013 – ammonium nitrate stored at a Texas fertiliser plant near Waco detonated in a blast that killed 14 and injured some 200 people.
- 2015 – an explosion involving ammonium nitrate and other chemicals killed 173 people in the port of Tianjin northern China.
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