However, if it is contaminated with impurities, the risk of it detonating increases. The monster explosion that destroyed a good bit of Beirut was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of the fertilizer ammonium nitrate – a ghastly amount of one seriously scary chemical. Stored ammonium nitrate is a major fire hazard . Explosions of ammonium nitrate, involving relatively small quantities, have occurred during the preparation of nitrous oxide. Blast calculations suggest that at sea level, an explosion like Beirut’s would require about 1,000 tons of ammonium nitrate. The captain closed the hold and pumped in pressurized steam. Ammonium nitrate would only explode on its own if its temperature was rapidly raised to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Ammonium nitrate was involved in the 1947 Texas City disaster, one of the largest industrial explosions in history. Ammonium nitrate stored at site of massive Beirut explosion: Officials At least 70 are dead and more than 3,500 are injured, authorities say. "If the pictures are right, this was something meant to be an oxidizer used with other agents," such as explosives used for mining, he says. “The human impact of it is the important thing, and it affected people a dozen kilometers away.”. In 1947, an explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed at least 581 people and wounded 3,500 after two cargo ships carrying ammonium nitrate caught fire. Although we do not know exactly what happened yet in Beirut, the sheer size of the collected ammonium nitrate offers some clues. Or, this discrepancy might mean that the material inside the warehouse was not pure ammonium nitrate, and some other compound was involved with the blast. Ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse linked to catastrophic Beirut explosion By Helen Regan , Tamara Qiblawi, Ghazi Balkiz, Ben Wedeman and Luke McGee, CNN Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT) August 6, 2020 Some internet rumors speculate that because the ammonium nitrate was left to sit in a warehouse for several years, it would have degraded, becoming more volatile and increasingly dangerous over time. Orica's ammonium nitrate plant stores up to four times the amount that was in the Beirut explosion, but the company says it's safe and highly regulated. The Biggest Ammonium Nitrate Explosions since 2000. It has been the cause of previous industrial accidents, and an ingredient in acts of terrorism as well. It also destroyed Texas City in 1947 and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. But the chemical has a more nefarious use -- as an explosive. Here is the information he has gathered about the explosion in Beirut. Former justice minister and ex-Internal Security Forces head Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi said Thursday that he has testified before Judge Fadi Sawwan that Iran had sent the ammonium nitrate shipment that eventually caused the August 4 catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port. On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, eighteen miles north of Waco, while emergency services personnel were responding to a fire at the facility. The deadly explosion in Beirut, and the reddish plumes of smoke that followed, showed telltale signs of an ammonium nitrate blast, experts said. The more ammonium nitrate… In 1947, an explosion in Texas City, Texas, killed at least 581 people and wounded 3,500 after two cargo ships carrying ammonium nitrate caught fire. Compared to most combustible materials, ammonium nitrate itself is not exceptionally explosive. Ammonium nitrate is used in fertilizer and in the mining industry as an explosive to blast rock and move mounds of earth. Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a red, bad-smelling gas. Burning ammonium nitrate in an open field, for instance, isn't likely to result in an explosion, Rae said. The shipment was eventually abandoned, and its cargo moved into the hangar where it remained, despite Lebanese custom officials requesting its disposal on at least six different occasions, according to The New York Times. Videos posted online from the Beirut waterfront on Aug. 4 showed an epic disaster unfold with terrifying speed. Lebanese officials say that thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port in Beirut caused the powerful explosion that devastated the city on Tuesday, killing more than 130 people, injuring at least 4,000 and displacing 300,000 from their homes. Even a small amount of contamination would have made the ammonium nitrate more likely to detonate. The huge explosion that rocked the Lebanese capital on Tuesday is thought to have been caused by ammonium nitrate. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) is a red, bad-smelling gas. In 2013, a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, caught fire and exploded, killing 15 people. What detonated the explosive compound remains unclear—but the Beirut blast is not the first time ammonium nitrate has led to calamity. That bomb, the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast, has a net explosive weight of 18,700 pounds or roughly 9.35 tons of TNT, according to data from the U.S. Army Defense Ammunition Center. The ensuing explosion killed some 600 people, including everyone on the dock and ship. Annually, the world produces and stores enormous amounts of ammonium nitrate—more than 20 million tons in 2017. “Plastics, for example, paint, and other organic materials that completely or partially burned—all the building materials that became dust.”, The deadly history of ammonium nitrate, the explosive linked to the Beirut blast, Photograph by Anwar AMRO, AFP via Getty Images. The explosion took place when workers used dynamite to break up ammonium nitrate that was caked together, a common practice at the time, according to Prof. Oxley. The blast, which rattled entire buildings and broke glass, was felt across the city. The huge change in phase creates a shockwave.”. A devastating explosion of an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate killed more than 200 people and injured at least 6,000 at the port of Beirut on the … Calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), prepared from ammonium nitrate and calcium carbonate, is used in some cases as an alternative to ammonium nitrate. In 2013, ammonium nitrate caused a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Nearby stores of … While ammonium nitrate can in fact put out a fire, if the chemical itself is contaminated, for example with oil, it becomes highly explosive. A more likely explanation is that the ammonium nitrate in Beirut was not alone inside the warehouse. [screaming] [smaller explosions] [giant blast] [alarms] [alarms] [crying]. Ammonium nitrate, by itself, is relatively harmless. Given the reported amount, Oxley hypothesizes that a vehicle must have been used to carry the compound inside, and that could have contaminated it with oil or gasoline. Ammonium nitrate, which is used in fertilizers and bomb making, is a salt made from ammonium and nitric acid, and it is highly explosive. Investigators confirmed that ammonium nitrate was … Such investigations may take time. “Ammonium nitrate is derived from the reaction between ammonia and nitric acid. Videos captured the toll of the deadly blast in Beirut that killed dozens of people and injured thousands. Reconstructing exactly what went wrong in Beirut will be difficult, but Chavez says officials should look for evidence of improper storage, confinement, contamination, lack of ventilation, and potential sources of ignition. There are several documented examples of deadly ammonium nitrate fire and explosion incidents in the past, some with large numbers of fatalities like in China in 2015 and in Texas in 1947. But the compound can contribute to explosions because it belongs to a chemical class known as oxidizers. This week, a massive explosion involving ammonium nitrate rocked the city of Beirut, sending shock waves through the media.. This recent tragedy is devastating, and unfortunately, it’s not the first time this dangerous chemical compound has caused widespread damage. 559 Menschen wurden durch die Explosionen getötet und … Die Explosion war noch im 300 Kilometer entfernten München zu hören. “All kinds of other materials probably ignited and burned,” says Beaudoin. An ammonium nitrate explosion produces massive amounts of nitrogen oxides. But if added to a fuel source, and subjected to intense stresses like heat and pressure, it can explode. Ammonium nitrate was also involved in that explosion. There were 2600 tonnes of ammonium nitrate on board. All rights reserved. Beirut officials have identified ammonium nitrate as the base component of Tuesday's explosion. While these alternatives have helped, it is important to note that unintended impurities in the manufacturing process may reduce its stability or facilitate explosion. The energy of the detonation wave causes the ammonium nitrate to vaporise - becoming a gas in an instant. But for the compound to figure in an explosion of this magnitude, chemists and explosives experts say a lot has to go wrong. An explosion occurred in a warehouse storing some 300 metric tons of ammonium nitrate in the southern French city of Toulouse. The blast registered as magnitude 3.3 on the Richter scale, and caused devastation usually associated with major earthquakes. Though Lebanese authorities have said ammonium nitrate was the culprit in the blast, Lewis notes that in many cases commercial explosives are referred to as just this compound even though they contain additives. According to the Lebanese government, about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was stored in a warehouse on the Beirut waterfront and caught fire, later exploding. Damaged areas outside of the port of Beirut on Wednesday. Injuries surpassed more than 5,000; the blast destroyed 500 homes and the smoke from it billowed for days. Add enough of the oxidizer to a fire, and it will trigger an explosion. The gas released from the decomposing fertiliser is what drives the explosion. Experts believe the cause of the explosion is linked to 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at a warehouse at the port in Lebanon's capital since 2014. It has some military applications as well. Measured using this method, onlookers estimated the blast was roughly equivalent to 400 to 3,000 tons of TNT, an explosive material that’s also used as a unit to measure the destructiveness of explosions. Chinese authorities claimed the first explosion had been triggered after the heat of summer caused a highly flammable compound called nitrocellulose to spontaneously catch fire. Is broken down as 78 percent for explosives, disaster struck in Tianjin, China, when a burns! 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