October, 2020

202001OctAll DayHazardous Chemicals Hidden in Plain SightProcess Safety Beacon | Watch for materials stored in your area for a long time.Lessons:Operational IntegrityLanguage:EN Origin: CCPS Material:Ammonium NitrateDocument Type:BulletinTopics:Chemical Reaction


On August 4, 2020, a massive explosion occurred in Beirut, Lebanon that killed at least 160 people, injured more than 5,000 and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

At this time, no estimate of damages or cause of the explosion are available. The material, ammonium nitrate (AN), is a common fertilizer, but is also used as a blasting agent in mining. Approximately 2750 tonnes (3030 US tons) were stored in a warehouse for over 6 years. Local officials were aware of the material’s presence and age, but insufficient efforts were made to manage the storage operation. Some ports have taken steps to limit or eliminate storage of AN in response to the Beirut explosion. (ref. Washington Post August 21, 2020)

Often, we walk by things every day and do not “see” them because they have been there so long. This is more than a housekeeping concern. Proper storage is essential for all chemicals especially those that can degrade.

Are there drums or other containers of chemicals in your area that aren’t often used? Have you ever looked at their labels? ( statistics at the time of this Beacon)

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CCPSCenter for Chemical Process Safety