05 Aug 2020

Beirut Explosion Site

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Rumor has it that the Israelis blew up a Hezbollah rocket cache, unaware that next door was stored a massive amount of Ammonium Nitrate. Whoops!

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12 Feedbacks on "Beirut Explosion Site"

OneGuy

The ammonium nitrate story does not make sense. It can be converted to a fairly effective low energy explosive. But to make it explosive it requires some kind of petroleum product with some of those products being more effective than others. Without that mix the chemical is merely mildly receptive to oxidation i.e. burning. But even when the ammonium nitrate is properly mixed with a petroleum product it requires “containment” to be effective i.e. to blow a large hole in the ground AND to make a sonic boom.

Whatever was in that warehouse was far more explosive and either was “contained” as in a bomb/missile OR was so explosive that merely being ignited in the open would still produce a high energy explosion.

This was not ammonium nitrate anymore than the bomb that blew up Murrah building was ANFO.



Stomp

Why would Hezbollah have a rocket cache next to 2+ tons of ammonium nitrate? Beirut is such a mess …



Aggie

You see what happens when you use the low-bidder on a dredging contract?



bob sykes

If ammonia nitrate is exposed to high temperatures, it will decompose explosively to water and nitrous oxide. The nitrous oxide it self will decompose into nitrogen and oxygen. All the decomposition products are high temperature, high pressure gases—an explosion.



OneGuy

I dunno Bob, I think you are conflating rapid oxidizing and decomposition to exploding. In your example does it compare with C4?? Second question, did you see the video and hear the shock wave? Ammonium nitrate won’t do that even under perfect conditions. ANFO is used extensively in construction and mining exactly because of it’s very lower power and relative safety. AND that is ANFO not fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate like what was claimed to be in this warehouse.

Even pure ammonium nitrate has the lowest detonation velocity of all explosives, it is considered a low level Class C explosive. It will rapidly decompose in high heat i.e. burn fiercely but it cannot decompose fast enough to create a shock wave UNLESS it is contained.



Fusil Darne

Bet the Israeli’s knew exactly what was in that warehouse. Bet it wasn’t fertilizer, at least, not yesterday.



Steverino

For clarity’s sake, a conflagration is a subsonic fire, while a detonation is a supersonic fire. It sounds like ammonium nitrate will cause a conflagration on its own, but requires petroleum and containment to cause the detonation we saw on the videos.



Steverino

Do you think evil minds are watching these explosion videos and are inspired to sail a ship full of similar explosives into New York Harbor and detonate it? I do.



OneGuy

To be clear ammonium nitrate can burn and can with extreme heat become extremely dangerous but not generally explosive. Understand that fertilizer grade AN is not pure it is about 40 AN and the rest is stabilizers.

ANFO which is pure ammonium nitrate mixed with fuel oil is explosive but it is a very low power explosive that only “explodes” when it is packed into a containment such as a drilled hole in rock. It is a low speed explosive that cannot create a shock wave.

The explosion pictured was of a military grade explosive, possible bombs or more likely missiles, being set off by the high heat and minor explosions that were apparent in the video.

If you go to your local Walmart or garden store in the spring you will see a couple of pallets of ammonium nitrate in the garden section. No special handling, no high explosive warning signs, because it is almost inert it is so safe. More than likely if the Walmart burned to the ground the real risk to firemen and others would be the plastics burning and not the ammonium nitrate.



Mike

Seems to have been several explosions like this over the years that didn’t require containment or diesel fuel.



JK Brown

There is a close video from an apartment overlooking the port. Even the people videoing are commenting on the fire for a few minutes before you get a rapid air sound, smallish explosion and then more before the massive explosion.

So it could just have been a warehouse fire, that got to the ammonium nitrate that was probably not so stable/sealed and pure after 6 years in a port warehouse



Schill McGuffin

There’s a pretty long list of disastrous unintentional Ammonium Nitrate explosions:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ammonium_nitrate_disasters

My best guesses in this case would be either that the stuff was old and improperly (too densely) packed, or that it had already been prepped with fuel oil for use in terrorist explosives — though probably not intended to be used all at once. Whether it was triggered by a hostile agent, or through negligence, will likely remain an open question.



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