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Beirut Explosion Podcast and Infographic: Understanding Catastrophic Risk

 Risk Matters X.0 Podcast

Darrell Barker (left) and Ben Harrison (right) investigating incidents onsite.

RMX Episode 7: Beirut Explosion - How have major industrial incidents, transportation accidents, terrorist attacks and natural disasters changed our understanding of risk? In the first installment of our Catastrophic Risk Series, host Matt Mowrer seeks answers about the Beirut explosion from experts at ABS Group's Extreme Loads and Structural Risk division. This specialized engineering team analyzes blast effects to understand how we can make buildings safer and more resilient to withstand man-made and natural disasters. Incident investigators Darrell Barker and Ben Harrison share their technical insights on what we know about ammonium nitrate and what we can learn from catastrophic incidents to improve awareness and better manage risk.

What to Know: Analysis of 2020 Beirut Explosion

Ammonium nitrate (AN) is a stable chemical compound that is widely used around the world in agriculture and mining. Although classified as an oxidizer, not an explosive, AN is combustible under extreme conditions–especially if it is contaminated, confined and exposed to fire.

On 4 August 2020, a fire broke out at a port warehouse in Beirut, Lebanon. The warehouse stored 2,750 metric tons of confiscated AN along with other hazardous materials, including fireworks. Approximately 28 minutes after the fire was reported, the AN detonated in a massive explosion that resulted in 200 fatalities, 6,000 people injured, 300,000 left homeless and more than $15 billion in property damage.


Beirut Explosion Infographic

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