After what happened last week, the Lebanese have without a doubt come to dread ammonium nitrate. The scar left in the people of Lebanon by the compound that blew up their capital city certainly has not and will not vanish.
This is why in the past few days, people, who are still in shock after the blast, have worriedly and angrily diverted their attention to the Zouk Power Plant, in Kessrwan, where allegedly a large amount of ammonium nitrate is stored.
The claim has naturally caused panic, but it also prompted an investigation into the power plant by the competent security personnel.
As it turns out, “the warehouses of the Zouk Power Plant do not contain ammonium nitrate at all,” assured Electricity of Lebanon (EDL) in a statement on Tuesday, August 11th.
This assertion was based on the findings of the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), which recently conducted an investigation of the plant following the unsettling claim.
What does exist in these warehouses, along with other “routinely-used” chemicals, is liquid ammonia with a concentration level that does not exceed 25%, according to EDL’s statement.
In this form, “the chemical is non-flammable and is used to sterilize the water in the boilers and, according to the safety data for this substance, the possibility of its explosion is negligible or non-existent,” the institution added.
As for the other substances found at the power plant, the investigation led to a similar conclusion that, according to the safety data, “they do not cause an explosion.”
Nonetheless, it was revealed that the storage conditions approved for some of these materials “do not conform with those mentioned in the safety data, and the expiration date for others has expired.”
In light of this deduction, EDL said that it has proceeded to take several measures at the power plant, including the separation of the chemicals that have “a different or incompatible nature,” ensuring their transport to “spaced and sealed warehouses.”
It added that it will also install “ventilation fans, sensors, and fire-fighting equipment” in the warehouses that have not been equipped with them.
Moreover, the expired substances will accordingly be gathered in order to be destroyed in accordance with their respective safety information, under the supervision of the [caretaker] Ministry of Environment, EDL said.
Finally, EDL assured all citizens, “especially those in Keserwan and Jiyeh,” that it will be “taking measures to keep them from any danger, no matter how insignificant it is.”