Beirut 'lucky' to escape a second explosion

Michael Wentler, a chemical expert managing Combi Lift's Beirut operation, has said Lebanon only escaped a second chemical inferno by chance. He commented that thousands of litres of dangerous substances stored in decaying containers for more than a decade at the port had turned the area into a minefield of chemical hazards.

"We found substances that, if mixed together, would lead to an explosion," he told AFP on Wednesday, recounting an assignment he said compared to no other. "The port is lucky, because the containers have a distance" between them, he added.

Heavy lift transport company Combi Lift in November signed a contract with Lebanese authorities to deal with the hazardous substances at the blast site. This month, Wentler and his team finished treating 52 containers, in a process he said revealed the lethal chaos that has long prevailed at Beirut harbour.

"I have never seen a situation like this before in my life," Wentler said, describing festering chemical mixtures so corrosive they burned gaping holes right through massive shipping containers. "You have like a sea or a river of yellow and green substances that came out" of some containers, he added. "These chemicals were bubbling".

If you are interested in learning more about the explosion in Beirut, as well as others involving ammonium nitrate, dont forget we are holding a workshop with experts involved in these incidents on April 21, 2021. Click here to get your tickets. 

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