NFPA has released a new fact sheet in English and Spanish to help clear up misconceptions about ammonium nitrate dangers. The resource for code officials, business owners, and facility managers was developed following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon that reportedly killed 190 people, injured 6,500 more, left an estimated 300,000 residents homeless, and resulted in $10–15 billion(US) in property damage.
Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound produced in both solid and liquid form that is commonly used in fertilizers. Pure ammonium nitrate is stable, and when stored properly, it poses few safety hazards. Destabilization, however, can occur when flames or fire heats the ammonium nitrate causing it to become self-reactive and give off gases that are flammable and can ignite.
The new guidance looks at conditions that might destabilize ammonium nitrate and offers safety steps that can protect buildings before an enforcement issue or incident occurs. The document covers the following:
- How and Why Ammonium Nitrate Turns Dangerous
- Dangerous Conditions
- Highly Dangerous Conditions
- How to Increase Facility Protection
- Safety Requirements
- New Construction
- Existing Facilities
- Detection and Notification Systems
- Emergency Response Issues
NFPA has generated related content about ammonium nitrate including a video blog, an NFPA Journal article, a podcast, a Learn Something New video, and a blog about hot work. An Arabic version of the new fact sheet will be posted later this fall. All these resources point to the guidance that is available in NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code.