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Beirut explosion seems a catastrophic ‘accident similar to 2001 Toulouse fertilizer factory blast,' detonations expert tells RT

Added 08-04-20 10:37:01pm EST - “The massive blast that shook Beirut was likely caused by a fatal mishandling of hazardous materials, mirroring the explosion that leveled a fertilizer plant in France some two decades ago, a chemist and detonations expert told RT.” - Rt.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Rt.com: “Beirut explosion seems a catastrophic ‘accident similar to 2001 Toulouse fertilizer factory blast,’ detonations expert tells RT”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Tuesday’s explosion tore through a port chemical depot and sent a towering fireball and mushroom cloud into the sky over Beirut, leaving more than 70 people dead and some 4,000 injured. Though US President Donald Trump has mused that the incident was an “attack” caused by “some kind of bomb,” Frolov – who heads the combustion and explosion department at the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow – said he’s confident the blast was a catastrophic accident.

“The sequence of events shows this was an accidental explosion for sure,” Frolov, who also leads the Semenov Institute’s detonations lab, told RT in an interview. “You shouldn’t store such amounts of hazardous materials in one place. This is forbidden.”

If you have hazardous materials somewhere in store, and if you violate the conditions of storage, you can expect an ignition source will always appear.

While the exact cause of the blast has yet to be determined, Lebanese officials say that some 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had been improperly stored at the port for nearly 6 years, with the country’s President Michel Aoun vowing “severe penalties” for those responsible for the chemical cache. Commonly used in fertilizers, ammonium nitrate is also the main ingredient in some industrial-grade explosives, such as ANFO, and is prone to violent combustion if stored under the wrong conditions.

Frolov pointed to press reports stating that the chemical warehouse was located not far from a fireworks storage and other hazardous material facilities, calling it a “very, very dangerous mix,” requiring only a small spark to set off a major secondary blast.

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