Beirut sends hazardous material to Germany for destruction

Originally published in AP 

A German company has removed dangerous chemicals stored in dozens of containers from Beirut’s port and is shipping them abroad as part of efforts to secure the facility following last year’s massive blast, the office of Lebanon’s prime minister said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s office said 59 containers of “hazardous material were deported” from Beirut’s port on Wednesday.

Germany’s ambassador to Lebanon, Andreas Kindl, tweeted in February that the material has first been treated at the port, and that it is ready to be shipped to Germany. On Wednesday, he said the ship carrying the material has left and will arrive in the German town of Wilhelmshaven in about 10 days.

“It will take weeks to destroy the chemicals that have been in the Port of Beirut for decades,” Kindl tweeted.

The decision to remove the material followed the Aug. 4 blast at Beirut’s port that was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history.

Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate — a highly explosive material used in fertilizers — had been improperly stored in the port for years. The catastrophic blast killed 211 people and injured more than 6,000, devastating nearby neighborhoods.

In November, Lebanon signed a deal with Germany’s Combi Lift to treat and ship abroad the containers consisting of flammable chemicals. The deal is worth $3.6 million, toward which port authorities in Lebanon paid $2 million while the German government is covering the rest.

Since the August blast and a massive fire at the port weeks later, authorities have been concerned about dangerous material still at the facility. A month after the blast, the Lebanese army said military experts were called in for an inspection and found 4.35 tons of ammonium nitrate that were removed and destroyed.


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