Plan to store Beirut explosion fertiliser in Portsmouth withdrawn

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Portsmouth PortImage source, Google
Image caption,
The planning application to store ammonium nitrate at Portsmouth Port has been withdrawn

Plans to store almost 5,000 tonnes of an agricultural fertiliser that caused a deadly explosion in Lebanon at a UK port have been withdrawn.

More than 200 people were killed in a blast in Beirut after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was believed to have been stored unsafely in a warehouse.

Cargo-handling company Portico Shipping had sought to store the same substance in Portsmouth for a potential client.

However, the city council-owned company said the storage was no longer needed.

The application to store 4,999 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was originally made in December 2019 and stated that it would follow strict industry guidelines to ensure safety.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The destruction caused by a huge explosion in Beirut port

Mike Sellers, director of Portico, said: "This planning application was made many months ago based on discussions with a potential customer who might have needed to transport this substance.

"However, the business has not materialised and Portico is withdrawing their application.

"We would like to be clear that there hasn't been any ammonium nitrate through the port and there will not be any in the future."

Experts say ammonium nitrate is relatively safe when stored properly, but can become dangerous if left to decay over long periods.

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