Some 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stuck in Dakar port

AFP , Thursday 20 Aug 2020

Dakar Port
The autonomous port of Dakar is currently storing the same amount of chemical that caused the tragedy in Beirut blast (Photo: Courtesy of Port de Dakar Facebook page)

About 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, equal to the volume involved in the cataclysmic Beirut blast, is stored in the port in Senegal's capital Dakar, officials said Thursday.

The August 4 explosion at the Beirut port killed 181 people, wounded thousands and ravaged huge areas of the Lebanese capital.

Official negligence and corruption have been blamed for the detonation of the huge stock of explosive ammonium nitrate stored unsecured in a portside warehouse for years.

Ammonium nitrate has a dual use as fertiliser or in explosives.

Senegalese port authorities Thursday said about 3,050 tonnes of ammonium nitrate had arrived in Dakar.

"Of this, 350 tonnes were already sent to Mali," the port authorities said in a statement.

The remainder is also destined for Mali, but the landlocked country has been sealed off following a coup on Tuesday.

The owner of the ammonium nitrate had proposed storing it on a plot of land he owns in an area 30 kilometres (19 miles) outside Dakar that is being developed as a satellite town.

But the environment ministry turned it down, port official Baba Drame told AFP.

"We have asked the owner to take measures to take the product out of Senegal," he said.

Senegalese President Macky Sall on Wednesday asked a cabinet meeting to draw up a plan to make depots storing hazardous chemical products secure.

Dakar port authorities said they had taken "all necessary measures to avoid a similar disaster" like the Beirut blast.

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