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In the News: Lebonon, The Rest of The Story

  1. I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal today, and here's what I found out:

    The explosion was caused by a fire in a building where 2750 TONS of Ammonium Nitrate was being stored that had been unloaded off of a ship that was in distress and was unseaworthy four or five years ago and the Lebanese government was supposed to dispose of it but never got around to it.

    The government of Lebanon is now on the verge of collapse.
  2. Radical Muslims tend to do that.
  3. Maybe they were keeping it there to protect nearby weapons storage. If somebody like Israel struck the weapons there'd be too much chance of the fertilizer going off and devestating a civilian populated area.
  4. Damn. Incompetence is a killer in today's industrial world
  5. is that a lot, as far as explosives go?
  6. "I will not rest until we find the person responsible for what happened, to hold him accountable and impose the most severe penalties,” Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said

    Should be looking at himself
  7. Oops!
  8. This morning I was looking at some video of that explosion.

    I can't remember seeing anything like that short of a A Bomb.
  9. It is over a kiloton. That was a heck of a K!Boom.
  10. The Texas City disaster was thought to be about 2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate.

    Oklahoma City was about 2 tons.
  11. Based on the video, it's enough.
  12. On the order of 1000x as much as the OKC bombing so I’m going with yes.

    I heard it was stored in cloth sacks. Don’t know if that’s true. Is a fire enough to touch it off? Seems like you’d want a better way to store it.
  13. Thing about ammonium nitrate is that it's a tertiary explosive. A primary explosive is something like blasting caps or primers. Something that goes off easy when impacted or otherwise triggered. Secondary explosives are things like gun powder or TNT. They are certainly explosive, but won't detonate unless triggered by a primary explosive first. And then, of course, ammonium nitrate being a tertiary explosive needs something like TNT going off in the middle of it before it will detonate. There were, apparently, fireworks going off in the fire before the big boom. I guess some of those must have been tossed into the ammonium nitrate storage thus providing the necessary "boost" to set it off.
  14. The photos I have seen seem to show a plastic weave bag enclosed in a big plastic bag as a vapor barrier. The material will absorb water so the need for the outer bag.

    I was the PM at a plant in Ohio that made liquid and dry aluminum sulfate; a common water treating chemical. We used bags like that to ship the dry powder. It is also hygroscopic
  15. So it probably wasn’t cloth sacks.

    And fire alone won’t set it off.

    Thanks for the info!
  16. Fire alone WILL set it off. IIRC all of recent AN explosions of straight AN - not ANFO - have been under extreme fire conditions; Texas City, Bryan, TX, West, TX, etc.

    It is shipped as a 5.1 Hazard Class.


    And the DOT Guide for AN saying isolate for .5 miles if cargo under fire.

  17. And anything with a lot of nitrogen is a good fertilizer. Smokeless powder is actually a good fertilizer which is why a good way of disposing of discarded, pulled, or mixed powder is to spread it around you garden.
  18. Yes it will.

    If there is sufficient quantity of ammonium nitrate, it can generate enough heat to catch fire and keep the fire going, without the need for an external catalyst such as a flame.

    As it burns, ammonium nitrate goes through chemical changes that lead to the production of oxygen, precisely what a fire needs to keep going and get bigger. As it heats up the chemical can fuse together, creating a seal or plug.

    The space behind the plug keeps on being heated and gases form.

    Hot gas expands, but, behind the plug, it has nowhere to go. Eventually, the gas will break through the seal and the force of that will trigger an explosion.
  19. So let me get this straight. Four-five years ago, enough explosives to rival a small nuclear warhead were pulled into port. It was supposed to be disposed of, since:
    1) It's a massive safety hazard and security risk.
    2) It's in a populated area.
    3) Explosive compounds deteriorate; becoming more volatile over time.

    ...and they "never got around to it"?

    Sounds legit. Only a government could be that incompetent.

    On the other hand, it would make a big juicy target for Lebonon's enemies or a terrorist group, if word ever got out about it. It's the Middle East; I can guarantee that someone would be ok with setting something that powerful off around civilians.

    No $h!t. :cool:

    I wouldn't be surprised if their entire government body was was removed from power, then either imprisoned or executed.
  20. Nope
  21. Every government on earth, including ours, is run by morons.
  22. That's how they use it in mining, but yes, any explosive will spontaneously detonate if the conditions are extreme enough.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
  23. seems like a flaw to keep your ammonium nitrate next to your fireworks. But i did not go to school fir chemistry or fire prevention, so take my advice accordingly
  24. Like I said; "ONLY a government could be that incompetent."
  25. So, incompetence and improper storage and handling of a dangerous material in a facility under the control of a terror organization?


    View: https://youtu.be/YIP2LQ9q4U4
  26. Yes it is. It’s actually a very stable explosive. It has a relatively low brisance (shattering ability). The shock wave is a few thousand feet per second. It’s used for earth moving.

    At the other end of the scale is PETN which has a very high brisance. The shock wave is around 23,000 FPS. It’s used in
    DET cord.
  27. PETN will do the job very nicely.
  28. No bomb ever goes to waste in Beriut.

    It was written.
  29. In case anyone is interested, I found out as a teenager that mixing potassium chlorate and red phosphorus together is a bad idea. Especially letting it sit in glass containers for an extended period of time. That’s a really bad idea.
  30. Did you survive ? If so, you were lucky.
  31. Heh...it's called Armstrong's Mixture...they used it in those old cap guns back in the day.
  32. So would this ammonium nitrate be a legitimate “Ship High In Transit” material?
  33. Reminds me of my days making ammonium triiodide in college to bedevil the NROTC detachment.

  34. No need. It really doesn’t off gas or do anything strange unless it gets contaminated.
  35. I remember some plant, many years ago, that was out in the desert Southwest. I think I remember watching a BLEVE go in hazmat class one.
  36. PEPCON wasn’t really a BLEVE, which is a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion. BLEVE’s are caused by pressurized vessels ( tank cars, for instance ) that fail under fire. The resulting low pressure causes the flammable liquid to immediately boil. The vapor cloud finds an ignition source and then explodes.


    The military FAE, fuel air explosion, uses this principle.

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmRASCHJe2Q

    Of course, we had an alternate name for a BLEVE. We called them

    Blast Leveling Everything Very Effectively.

    So in that definition, PEPCON was a BLEVE.

  37. That is a relatively common explosive for removing rock for a railroad or highway cut. Drill a grid of deep holes. Cap a stick of dynamite - electric preferred - and gently lower it to the bottom of the hole, cap first with wires tied around and taped to the dynamite, then pour the ANFO mixture into the hole, tamp, and fill the hole with tailings from drilling. Ideally sequence the holes to peel the rock away from the mountain.
  38. ANFO, of course being about 94% AN and the rest being fuel oil.
  39. I was unclear, there were two different events I was referencing, my mistake.
  40. Yes. It self detonated while I was upstairs in my parents house. I had 8 grams stored in 1 gram amounts in 8 test tubes. These were in a coffee can filled with sand. This was on the bottom shelf of a locked metal cabinet.

    It blew the can to pieces throwing glass and sand around. It blew the locked cabinet door open. The bottom shelf had a big dent in it. The other shelves were blown to the top of the cabinet. Fortunately, nothing outside the cabinet was damaged.

    That was an interesting evening.
  42. Speaking of BLEVEs


    The San Juanico disaster was an industrial disaster caused by a massive series of explosions at a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank farm in San Juanico, Mexico (outside of Mexico City, Mexico) on 19 November 1984. The explosions consumed 11,000 m3 of LPG, representing one third of Mexico City's entire liquid petroleum gas supply. The explosions destroyed the facility and devastated the local town of San Juan Ixhuatepec, with 500–600 people killed, and 5000–7000 others suffering severe burns. The San Juanico disaster was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in world history.

    At 5:40 a.m., the cloud reached the flare and ignited, resulting in a vapor cloud explosion that severely damaged the tank farm and resulted in a massive conflagration fed by the LPG leaking from newly damaged tanks. Just four minutes later, at 5:44 a.m., the first tank underwent a BLEVE (Boiling Liquid/Expanding Vapor Explosion). Over the next hour, 12 separate BLEVE explosions were recorded. The fire and smaller explosions continued until 10 a.m. the next morning. It is believed that the escalation was caused by an ineffective gas detection system.
  43. Fun times.
  44. In school I was AFROTC and there was a NROTC detachment at the opposite end of the Armory Building. We had a friendly ( not so friendly sometimes ) rivalry going on. One particularly bad semester we were both going at it with each other. Just friendly stuff, like one morning they showed up and there was a huge cork stuck in their displayed naval gun.

    Somewhere someone had read about ammonium triiodide and made up some in the chemistry lab one night. It is fairly stable when wet, but shock sensitive when it dries out. On the way back to the dorms that same someone stopped by the Armory and went in the Naval side ( before the days of cameras everywhere ). He or she slung some stuff under the door jamb of their day room and painted their door knobs with it.

    Our day room was at the opposite end of the building down the corridor and we could see their area. A group of AF cadets was waiting for the Navy guys to show up ( someone may have alerted them :rolleyes: ).

    The first guy started to walk in and touched the doorknob. It snapped with a little cloud of purple smoke. He walked into the room and we heard snap, crackle and pop with a lot of four letter words. It continued as other people showed up until they had evidently walked on all of it.

    Our AF detachment guy issued a letter that afternoon to cease and desist.

  45. The responsible parties are now banging their 72 virgins.