German firm to remove dangerous material from Beirut port

German firm to remove dangerous material from Beirut port
2 min read
06 February, 2021
Since the August blast and a massive fire at the port weeks later, authorities have been concerned about dangerous material still at the facility.
The material had still posed a threat to Beirut [Getty]
A German company will remove hazardous materials stored in dozens of containers at Beirut's port, Germany's ambassador to Lebanon said Saturday, following efforts to secure the facility after the deadly explosion last August that devastated the port and much of the city.

Ambassador Andreas Kindl tweeted that the treatment at Beirut’s port for 52 containers of "hazardous and dangerous chemical material" has been completed. He added that the material will be shipped to Germany.

The decision to remove the material followed the August 4 explosion that was triggered by nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrates, a highly explosive fertilizer component, that had sat at the port for years. The blast killed 211 people, wounded more than 6,000, and destroyed parts of the capital.

Lebanon signed a deal with Germany’s Combi Lift in November 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 will pay $2 million with the German government covering the rest.

Kindl said the material that was treated had been a threat to people in Beirut.

Since the August blast and a massive fire at the port weeks later, authorities have been concerned about dangerous material still at the facility.

Read also: 'Not like every time:' Beirut blast victims want the truth

Interim port chief Bassem al-Kaissi said in November that removing the chemicals was a necessary "preemptive step," warning that if they caught fire "Beirut will be wiped out".

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.

Lebanon has launched an investigation into the explosion following public anger towards the political elites, who have been considered responsible for the crisis due to the neglectful storage of the ammonium nitrate near the port.

At least 25 people have been arrested, including the port chief and the head of the customs authority, but no politician has been held accountable.

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