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I have a question about the explosion in Beirut

kansashunterkansashunter Senior MemberPosts: 1,812 Senior Member
I was going to search this on the net but I thought someone might get the wrong idea. I have used fertilizer and been around where it was stored and I never believed that it by itself was dangerous at all. When I was driving a truck I hauled it and you didn't have to placard it. I know a local quarry used it but I was told they mixed it with diesel fuel. What makes me curious is whether this was an accident as they claim or did someone have to help it along. It sounds fishy to me, who would have done it on purpose or why I have no idea. 

Replies

  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,395 Senior Member
    edited August 12 #2
    The initial explosion was not the ammonium nitrate(the first brown/orange smoke). It was some sort of high explosives stored in the same area as the ammonium nitrate. Ammonium nitrate will readily explode in the presence of a high explosive detonation and it's signature is a very white smoke cloud. The heat plus the blast pressure set off the ammonium nitrate. Adding diesel fuel or gasoline to the ammonium nitrate in mining detonations make it much more destructive. And in mining, the ANFO is set off by a high explosive charge of dynamite or like explosive. ANFO needs a high level explosive to make it  explode.

    The grain storage silos also added to the explosion when the silos failed on the side facing the explosion and the grain dust added to the explosion. Fine combustible dust makes a big explosion, too. That's why in coal plants the coal chunks are sprayed down with water before entering the ball mill or other type mill before grinding. Coal dust is highly explosive so dust must be avoided at all costs. This wet coal dust is sprayed into the boiler with high pressure air to spread it out and it ignites instantaneously when it contacts the fire already in the boiler. Worked in a coal plant for 6 months while in nuke power; nuke power is MUCH safer.  :)
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  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,812 Senior Member
    That makes more sense. What I had heard was there was a fire and I didn't think that would be enough to cause an explosion which is correct. So how stupid do you have to be to store high explosives near that much fertilizer? 
  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 6,748 Senior Member
    Other than the archived film of nuclear tests. That's the biggest explosion I've ever seen recorded.

    Frightening. Even on the tv screen. I don't blame anyone for wanting to know about it. Especially if such materials exist in bulk as part of their routine life.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,395 Senior Member
    That makes more sense. What I had heard was there was a fire and I didn't think that would be enough to cause an explosion which is correct. So how stupid do you have to be to store high explosives near that much fertilizer? 
    Well, we're talking about Hezbollah terrorists here. They aren't the brightest crayons in the box. They were the ones that stored the explosives and AN in the same place. Caches of ammonium nitrate and explosives smuggled  in by terrorists have been found in England, Germany, France, and other Western European nations since before the year 2000. Some were found in England and Germany this year.
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  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,812 Senior Member
    Didn't they  put something in it after the Okie city bombing to make it not suitable for explosives in this country? Same guys that are going to get twenty virgins I guess.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 21,070 Senior Member
    Didn't they  put something in it after the Okie city bombing to make it not suitable for explosives in this country? Same guys that are going to get twenty virgins I guess.
    Yes they add urea to it
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,812 Senior Member
    Urea is what we use around here now, I don't really know why but it is what they sell.
  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,395 Senior Member

    knitepoet said:
    Didn't they  put something in it after the Okie city bombing to make it not suitable for explosives in this country? Same guys that are going to get twenty virgins I guess.
    Yes they add urea to it
    Urea was added to it, and also the little prill balls of ammonium nitrate are coated to prevent their use in explosives. You can still get the ammonium nitrate  without the urea and coating, but it's obscenely expensive; it's used in fireworks. That was a U.S. government law passed after the OKC bombing. Don't know if any European country has done that, though. And in the Land of Sand, it's pretty obvious they didn't do it.
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  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,914 Senior Member
    Look up the Texas City explosion...occurred in 1947 when two ships were tied up alongside one another...one ship carrying about 1000 tons of AN had a fire aboard, the other ship, laden with 2300 tons of AN cooked off, leveling Texas City and killing in the neighborhood of 500 people
    It's all about heat and pressure to distinguish whether AN is an explosive or a fertilizer.
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,914 Senior Member
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • orchidmanorchidman Senior Member Posts: 8,108 Senior Member
    Analysis of the explosion..........



    Still enjoying the trip of a lifetime and making the best of what I have.....
  • ilove22silove22s Senior Member Posts: 1,386 Senior Member
    Im sure like may other big oops, it was a CF.

    but to me that was way cool.  Especially the pressure wave, to see it move across the water.  Its surprising that if you see/hear something like that, its not good to be near anything that shatters like glass.

    I noticed the same about the grain silo next door.  My 1st job was working next to one and every time they did a load/unload, the air around the silo/ship was a yellow cloud.  I was surprised that nothing happened in all my years there.

    But to me, its really cool to see those things.  Especially now with many people with phones/cameras they will get captured.


    The ears never lie.

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  • AntonioAntonio Senior Member Posts: 2,689 Senior Member
    AN was used by local maoist terrorist group during the '80s/'90s for making their car bombs; in fact wife was almost killed when a big one detonated in a downtown street 1½ blocks from her apartment.

    What happened in Beirut was a classic 3rld. world slow motion disaster propelled by bureaucracy, indolence and corruption. Local courts "tossed the ball around" for years while deciding who had jurisdiction over the definitive disposal of the impounded cargo, with the result we all see today.

    Problem is that as usual is in these places, NOTHING will change. Damages will have to be fixed by the victims themselves, no political "big cheese" will suffer the consequences, and storage procedures will only change superficially to become an expensive paperwork nuisance to everybody. 

    Trust me, that's the tragic "Groundhog day" we live in the doldrums. Too bad we don't have Trump to blame him about.
  • 10canyon5310canyon53 Member Posts: 2,119 Senior Member
    Antonio said:
    Too bad we don't have Trump to blame him about.

    Don't worry, CNN will find a way to blame him.
  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,812 Senior Member
    Well I learned a lot in this thread, some chemistry and some history. If I ever have to apply ammonia nitrate again I am going to be a little more cautious. Now we could talk about anhydrous ammonia, I know that stuff can kill you or do other wonderful things to you.
  • JustsomedudeJustsomedude Posts: 536 Senior Member
    I dont know why they didn't just dump it in the water a little at a time. Instant cold water.
  • AlleyCatAlleyCat Posts: 361 Member
    edited August 14 #18

    Just to help keep the heavy duty aluminum foil sales nice and high.  :)

     

    "Exclusive: Six blasts, each 11 seconds apart, preceded colossal Beirut explosion"


    https://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/node/44662 

    However, they could not have made the find that was only discovered using CY603, a seismographic network of six sensors located in the sea between Cyprus and Lebanon about 70km from Beirut at a depth of 2.2 kilometers.

    It is a network that was installed in the framework of IRIS, an international geological project for the research and prediction of earthquakes, as well as the detection of weapons testing, in the Mediterranean basin. The statistics of the sensors are available to the public on the internet, but in a non-routine manner they were blocked on August 5, less than 24 hours after the disaster that occurred in Beirut on August 4 a little after 6:00 in the evening. The geophysics experts obtained these statistics and found that the seismograph statistics revealed here (in the picture) are identical to the statistics of other sensitive sensors in the region regarding the main blasts in Beirut. And still it seems that no other entity noticed what was discovered in the overall investigation of the event: the large explosion of the ammonium nitrate was preceded by the six mysterious explosions whose exposure now completely changes the picture.  

    Each of those explosions was equivalent to that of several tons of explosives (it is difficult to determine the exact amounts at this stage of the investigation), and the amount of time between them was the same – 11 seconds. As seen in the seismogram, we can clearly identify five identical explosions 11 seconds apart, while the sixth blast, 11 seconds later, was several times bigger. And then, after 43 more seconds, came the massive explosion that was picked up by all the seismographs across the Middle East and devastated large parts of Beirut.      

         

    This analysis raises major questions regarding the accepted assumption that was published in the media that the explosion originated from a fire on the ground at the port that ignited fireworks and then the sacks of ammonium nitrate. It also is in line with foreign media reports (which were denied unconvincingly by official sources in Lebanon) that under the "regular" warehouses at the port where the fireworks and ammonium nitrate were stored was an underground city operated by Hezbollah, the real "owner" of the main Lebanese port, apparently with warehouses and tunnels, whose remnants were shown clearly in reports.



  • tennmiketennmike Senior Member Posts: 27,395 Senior Member
    edited August 15 #19
    Well I learned a lot in this thread, some chemistry and some history. If I ever have to apply ammonia nitrate again I am going to be a little more cautious. Now we could talk about anhydrous ammonia, I know that stuff can kill you or do other wonderful things to you.
    Anhydrous ammonia is a gas that is pressurized to liquefy it  for fertilizing  row crops. It is 'mostly safe' when used as intended and injected below the ground surface. There have been a few meth cookers that met their end trying to get a few gallons of the liquid out of a mobile anhydrous tank used for row crop application. Once at atmospheric pressure it vaporizes, just like liquid chlorine or propane. Inhaling the fumes will pretty much liquefy your lungs. Doesn't do much good for your skin, either.
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  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,914 Senior Member
    On the Fire Department, we were constantly getting calls for leaking anhydrous tanks in a field...for some reason, guys thought they HAD TO DO SOMETHING!....when IN reality, the only thing you need to do is keep people away from the downwind side and let the Damn thing leak
    ...there will be a big green spot there the next year.

    So we had an old department officer, (a dinosaur who knew everything about everything)who refused to read response procedures respond to a leaker out in the middle of a field....he had the engine pull in downwind of the tank...right in the middle of the cloud...Then the magic happened...the engine stalled and the guys in the cab were trying to get SCBAS on so they could get out without killing themselves....ended up putting three guys in the hospital and the officer being allowed to retire gracefully..
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • kansashunterkansashunter Senior Member Posts: 1,812 Senior Member
    edited August 15 #21
    I have applied a good bit of it. Being young and dumb I never used a face shield or gloves but as I got older and I heard some horror stories I did change that. They never used to inspect the tanks either and some of them had no trailer frame just an axle welded to each end of the tank. A farmer not far from here was pulling one in the field and it broke in half. I always made sure I knew which way the wind was blowing so I knew which way to head. It is cheaper but has it's drawbacks.
  • TugarTugar Senior Member Posts: 2,221 Senior Member
    edited August 15 #22
    The blast from Texas City in 1947 was initially thought to be an earthquake as it was detected in Denver. The freighter was carrying 2300 tons of AN. Which would be 4.6 million pounds of the stuff not counting anything else around it as a bonus. 

    and it threw the prop off of a nearby ship a mile away.



    https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/55693
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  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,914 Senior Member
    Tugar said:
    The blast from Texas City in 1947 was initially thought to be an earthquake as it was detected in Denver. The freighter was carrying 2300 tons of AN. Which would be 4.6 million pounds of the stuff not counting anything else around it as a bonus. 
    The other ship involved had nearly 1000 additional tons..

    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
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