The world witnessed harrowing visuals two days back when a warehouse in Beirut containing ammonium nitrate stored in an unsafe manner led to 135 people getting killed and over 5,000 severely injured. The devastation in Lebanon has now raised serious concerns over the explosive chemical that has remained in storage for years under the custody of the Customs Department in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 

Nearly 700 tonnes of the chemical, primarily used for manufacturing fertilisers and fireworks, have been in storage and was for a group in Sivakasi. The large consignment was confiscated at the Chennai port in 2015 by The Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch (SIB) Customs and has remained there since then. That said, Chennai port officials have stated the explosives are not stored at the harbor anymore. Approximately 30+ containers and each containing around 20 tonnes of ammonium nitrate were shifted long back and are currently under the control of the Customs Department inside a container freight station (CFS) outside the port. 

Pointing out the tragedy at Beirut two days back, PMK Chief Dr Ramadoss today tweeted demanding the safe disposal of the ammonium nitrate saying there is always the risk of a similar explosion and steps need to be taken to get rid of them at the earliest. The consignment is at present stored in a freight station north of Chennai, which although not densely populated, has numerous chemical factories and power plants in its vicinity. The blast at the warehouse in Beirut on Tuesday occurred after around 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate in storage exploded, leaving large parts of the Lebanese capital destroyed.