Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Beirut Explosion, so what was it?

HE117

LE
I once knew a female RLC type who looked like she weight lifted with 1000 pounders. She might pay you a visit.
The up side is you'd probably die smiling, well maybe.
Gerry OHara, when he was OC Netheravon once told me he once took a detail of Paras up to Kineton to pick up some ammo..

They drove into the Depot, and a "creature" of the female variety came out of a shed with an 80lb 5.5" shell under each arm and asked them WTF they wanted...

The lads got back on the 4 tonner and refused to come out...!
 

HE117

LE
Could it have been the Nitropril bags themselves?
No.. they are just plastic sacks, and even if they started burning, would not high order the AN.

You need to hit AN with a supersonic shock wave to get it to high order. I am almost certain that HE ammunition was being stored next door. There was clearly sporadic detonations occurring before the main event..
 
1. AN is not inflammable in the normal sense. It is an oxidiser, It is widely held in approved bulk storage locations around the world with minimal risk.

2. Whatever set the AN off was not a welding torch.

3. A welding torch may very well have set off something else, which in turn triggered a high order detonation of the AN..
I can still remember AN from school chemistry lessons, it is a very effective oxidiser. When a very small amount was heated in a test tube over a Bunsen burner it just rapidly decomposed. The resulting oxygen caused a smouldering match to re-ignite almost explosively.
As to welding, there was a disastrous fire in Düsseldorf Airport in the 90s caused by gash welding procedures.
The station armoury in Wildenrath burned down in September 1990, also due to gash welding procedures.
 
I can still remember AN from school chemistry lessons, it is a very effective oxidiser. When a very small amount was heated in a test tube over a Bunsen burner it just rapidly decomposed. The resulting oxygen caused a smouldering match to re-ignite almost explosively.
As to welding, there was a disastrous fire in Düsseldorf Airport in the 90s caused by gash welding procedures.
The station armoury in Wildenrath burned down in September 1990, also due to gash welding procedures.
Are you suggesting that hot works are somehow dangerous? Every fule know dat if you do the proper safety assessment and follow the laid down procedures it's as safe as houses! Oh wait, uman error!
 

MoleBath

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Speaking of accidents waiting to happen ...

'Almost 26,000 tons of ammonium nitrate are stored in Constanta Port, southeastern Romania, the national Sea Port Administration has announced on Thursday, warning that all operators of dangerous substances must have a security plan approved by the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations.

'26,000 tons means a quantity tens time higher than the one stored in the port in Beirut, of around 2,750 ammonium nitrate, which exploded on August 5 and claimed hundreds of lives and leaving thousands injured and homeless.

'The Constanta Sea Port Administration has announced that there are currently 25,952 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the Port of Constanta and that “this type of merchandise is stored in special warehouses certified by the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations.”


Meanwhile in a quiet yard behind the warehouse

1597348170826.png
 

HE117

LE
Fire proof? Not enough stored energy? Both?
Probably not fireproof, but not enough stored energy compared with the mass of the contents. From memory Nitropril comes in either clear PVC sacks or the 1 tonne woven polythene crane bags same as is used for sand etc. The hazard assessment of the material includes the packaging.

The issue is not what was stored, it was where it was stored! If you have AN and similar chemical compounds to be stored next to something that will detonate, then the risk is that the detonation will spread and high order the AN. This is similar to the issue of storing shell and charges next to each other. If propellant catches fire, you will get a fireball and sheets of flame, but not much of an explosion. If you have a shell detonating next to propellant, the propellant acts as if it is a high explosive, and will detonate rather than burn. Store them separately and the overall risk is much reduced..

Eventually AN will solidify, and the prills become compacted. If you get a detonation, this will assist in the propagation of the shock wave. It does not however make the AN any more unstable.
 
Last edited:
No.. they are just plastic sacks, and even if they started burning, would not high order the AN.

You need to hit AN with a supersonic shock wave to get it to high order. I am almost certain that HE ammunition was being stored next door. There was clearly sporadic detonations occurring before the main event..

Would black powder be fast enough?
 
Gerry OHara, when he was OC Netheravon once told me he once took a detail of Paras up to Kineton to pick up some ammo..

They drove into the Depot, and a "creature" of the female variety came out of a shed with an 80lb 5.5" shell under each arm and asked them WTF they wanted...

The lads got back on the 4 tonner and refused to come out...!

Again, sounds like Babs...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

HE117

LE
Would black powder be fast enough?
No.. black powder does not detonate, although it has a very high unconfined burning rate. You will get an explosion, but on its own does not have the energy density to initiate something like AN.
 

Oops

War Hero
Probably not fireproof, but not enough stored energy compared with the mass of the contents. From memory Nitropril comes in either clear PVC sacks or the 1 tonne woven polythene crane bags same as is used for sand etc. The hazard assessment of the material includes the packaging.

The issue is not what was stored, it was where it was stored! If you have AN and similar chemical compounds to be stored next to something that will detonate, then the risk is that the detonation will spread and high order the AN. This is similar to the issue of storing shell and charges next to each other. If propellant catches fire, you will get a fireball and sheets of flame, but not much of an explosion. If you have a shell detonating next to propellant, the propellant acts as if it is a high explosive, and will detonate rather than burn. Store them separately and the overall risk is much reduced..

Eventually AN will solidify, and the prills become compacted. If you get a detonation, this will assist in the propagation of the shock wave. It does not however make the AN any more unstable.
I've got more than a couple of 600 kg bags gone rock hard at present...

I can assure folk that dropping it 5 mts. off telehandlers ,running over it with diggers/ tractors and generally abusing it till the bags split does in no way make anything unstable except the fella who's shelled out a grand or two for the stuff!
( The bags burn excellently in the woodburner however)

Watching the footage, there is definitely something 'pinging around ' at the base of the fire prior to the big bang....
Can you differentiate fireworks from small scale ammunition in such circumstances?
 
Would black powder be fast enough?
BP burns at about 400 mtrs per second, sounds fast but compared to detonation it's a snails pace. It is also quite low energy, the charcoal fuel constitutes 15% of the mixture, the potassium nitrate which is the oxidiser is 75% with the rest being sulphur. Modern propellants are a very different animal, far more energy and higher burn rate. Perhaps even detonating if things go really wrong.
 
Account by a Lebanese friend who lives in Beirut, 1.8 km from the port. She wrote it a few hours after the explosion.



One bird stood still, unfazed by the loud whistle in the sky that sent the other birds flying in the air. The sound filling Beirut's sky was familiar but also rather strange. It sounded somewhat like when planes break the sound barrier but a bit more subtle.

I found this bird, standing so majestic and still, intriguing.

The sound at that stage was a monotonous hum. It wasn't a plane breaking the sound barrier, I thought.

I held up my phone to take a photo of the bird. I would take a lousy photo because using the camera terrifies me and the funny caption I had in mind, would probably sound way funnier in my head than in real life. I would end up never sharing it but I hold the phone up anyways.

The sound roars and shakes the city, my phone flies in the air. I was standing at the window, the worst possible place to stand.

The bird was standing on top of the fence of the terrace.

The roar lasted no more than 10 seconds. Nothing in the living room was where it was afterwards. The television jumped off the table, my laptop disappeared, no chair stood on its legs and smaller objects were flung all around.

The bird was gone, could it have made it, I wondered? In fact the fence too was gone, blown to pieces on the floor of the terrace.

The sound, that whistle, quickly followed by the hum, then the blast, made way to other ominous sounds: sirens and alarms.

When I wanted to take the photo of the bird, I had in mind a caption about how we should all strive to be the brave ones in the crowd, much like this bird that stood its ground despite the sound.

The sound - or the explosion that caused it - left damage that will be visible in Beirut for years to come. The streets of the city were sparkling with broken glass, no shopfront was left intact. Beirut had been shattered, the whole city, in its entirety.

In retrospect, I wonder if this bird knew there was no point in moving.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top