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Senegal moving 3,000 tons of the explosive that destroyed Beirut’s Port

Dakar, Senegal PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

PortandTerminal.com, August 31, 2020

DAKAR, SENEGAL – Senegalese authorities are removing 3,050 tons of ammonium nitrate from the port of Dakar. Dock workers in this West African coastal city raised the alarm, port staff said, after news of the massive blast in Beirut, which killed around 200 people and injured at least 6,500. 

Map

The amount at the Port of Dakar is said to be a larger volume of the chemical that was involved in the August 4 explosion in Beirut.

Trucks are carefully moving the hazardous substance to mines in neighboring Mali, Baba Drame, a Senegalese environment ministry official, said Friday.

Mali had taken delivery of 700 tons of the chemical as of Aug. 23, which will be stored at the Loulo-Gounkoto gold mine operated by Barrick Gold Corp., its transport ministry said in an earlier statement.

Drame speaking by phone said, “Officials were already aware of the large quantity of ammonium nitrate” at the port since July 28.

“After the explosion in Beirut, we decided it was urgent to have it removed,” he said.

President Macky Sall called for a review at the capital’s port at a cabinet meeting on August 19, promoting the ongoing evacuation.

The chemicals are being moved by road to Mali, despite a blockade against the country that had suffered a military coup on August 18,

Ammonium nitrate is exempt from the restrictions, according to Drame. “Mali has large mining operations,” he said. “Thousands of tons of the chemical pass through the port of Dakar to Mali — a landlocked country, every year.”

Bombed building. Debris
The former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed by a truck bomb that used ammonium nitrate on April 19, 1995. (PHOTO/AP)

Ammonium nitrate, used as fertilizer and as explosives in mines, is usually harmless by itself but can be dangerous under intense heat and pressure. It has been an ingredient in industrial accidents and acts of terrorism, as in 1995 when white supremacists blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.


With reporting by CGTN Africa, New York Times

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