Customs told to move out ammonium nitrate in 3-4 days

The Ammonium Nitrate stored in containers.

The Ammonium Nitrate stored in containers.  

Noting that around 12,000 people are living in the vicinity of the container freight station (CFS) in Manali, where 740 tonnes of seized ammonium nitrate have been stored, the police and other agencies have asked the Customs Department to move out the chemical within three or four days.

On Friday, the Customs Department successfully completed the e-auction for the consignment that was seized five years ago.

Informed sources told The Hindu that a licensee from a neighbouring State had successfully bid for the consignment.

Security near CFS

Security will be stepped up near the CFS in north Chennai to ensure that the consignment is moved out safely. “At present, the material is at a CFS with 9 m space all around the containers. Safety precautions, including fire extinguishers and monitors, are in place. But due to the proximity of human habitations and since it is in an open yard, we have suggested that it be moved to a safer location,” said K. Sundaresan, Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives and head of South Chennai Circle.

On Friday, a high-level meeting was conducted to discuss the issue. Police Commissioner Mahesh Kumar Aggarwal, Additional Commissioner (Chennai North) A. Arun, Joint Commissioner (North) V. Balakrishnan, Customs officials and Mr. Sundaresan attended the meeting.

It was decided to increase security at the present location until the material is moved out.

Earlier, a senior police officer said, “We have told Customs authorities to safely dispose of the ammonium nitrate quickly since they have initiated the process of auctioning. Or otherwise, they will have to store it in safer places. Such a place is not available in the city and they have to move it to Namakkal or Tiruchi where they have (designated) magazines — a place where explosives are stored exclusively.”

A designated magazine is a storage space built according to certain guidelines and has thick walls and roof and at a time only four persons are allowed to enter it. A magazine also is situated at a location, which is away from human habitation. The State has a number of such locations, Mr. Sundaresan added.

Earlier on Thursday, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) along with DGP, Fire and Rescue Services, C Sylendra Babu, had inspected the CFS. The inspecting team noticed that the warehouse spread over 18 acres was surrounded by CFS’ to the East, West and Northern directions and Ponneri High Road.

The officials also reported that the nearest habitations to the CFS are Manali New Town at a distance of 700 m in the northern direction with a population of 7,000 people, and Sadayankuppam village at a distance of 1,500 m in the East with a population of 5,000 people.

Taking into account the ground reality, the TNPCB too directed the Customs, which had seized the consignment imported from Korea by a Karur-based firm without licence, to move out the ammonium nitrate at the earliest.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2020 1:10:59 PM |

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