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HOW TO AVOID ANOTHER BIG BANG

Farmers reminded to store ammonium nitrate safely after Beirut explosion

Unsafely stored fertiliser caused a major explosion in Lebanon on Tuesday

Farmers reminded to store ammonium nitrate safely after Beirut explosion

Farmers have been reminded of the importance of safe storage of ammonium nitrate after it caused a major explosion in Beirut.

The explosion on Tuesday has killed at least 100 people and injured more than 4,000 others.

Lebanon president President Michel Aoun said the blast was caused by 2,750 tonnes of AN stored unsafely in a warehouse.


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Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) fertiliser sector head Jo Gilbertson said AN was a ‘very safe and stable’ product which offered no risk when properly stored.

Respect

But it needed to be treated ‘with respect’.

He highlighted the strict regulation by HSE in the UK and added AIC members were also part of the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS) which ran independent audits above and beyond regulations.

“Ammonium nitrate has been manufactured in the UK for over 100 years,” he said, adding there were also imports on the market.

“All the product that is for sale is subject to strict regulation.”

He added all products were thoroughly tested before being allowed to go onto the market.

“But it still needs to be looked after,” he said.

Mr Gilbertson said the key was ‘really good housekeeping’.

“It should be kept away from any potential sources of fuel, anything which may be combustible.”

This included storing it separately from urea and any other flammable substance or chemical which could provide a fuel.

“Look at labels, anything with an oxidising label should be stored separately,” Mr Gilbertson said.

“Sweep up any spillages and get them on the land immediately, that is the safest place for it.

Collaboration

“If you have any other major problems or old stock then call your supplier. They will be happy to help you out. We are all in this together.”

He added most suppliers would provide farmers with leaflets and posters for the wall or they could look online at AIC’s Five Point Plan.

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