Beirut Explosion Prompts Bangladesh to make Chittagong Port safe from Hazards

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News Desk

After the August 4 Beirut Port devastation apparently triggered by explosion of a long-term stored chemical stock, sources at the Chittagong Port confirmed that unclaimed, disputed or discarded stock, as old as of 28 years, of various hazardous, inflammable, and chemical substances are lying at a shed of the Port, posing a risk of devastating explosion like that of the Beirut Port.

Indifference of authorities to auction and clear out unclaimed hazardous and inflammable cargo from the Chittagong Port area for year after year is posing a serious risk for Bangladesh’s premier seaport.

Upon repeated warnings and letters from the country’s port users and business community no steps have ever been taken to clear the inflammable materials up until the Beirut incident. Only after that devastation did the authorities in Bangladesh form a committee mandated with the task to take measures for clearing the hazardous substances.

On August 4, industrial chemicals exploded in a massive blast that obliterated most of the port in the Lebanese capital. The explosion killed more than 170 people, and injured 6,000 more, and destroyed some 6,000 buildings, reported Reuters quoting Beirut’s municipal authorities.

According to Bangladesh Customs, within 30 days from the day that goods are unloaded from ships to the port jetty, importers must take delivery of their consignment. If an importer fails to receive and remove the consignment during the said period, customs authorities must issue a notice to the importer. And, if the importer does not take delivery within 15 days of notification, the goods are to be auctioned off. Undelivered cargoes have been sitting around the port for years on end as the customs authorities have neither auctioned them off nor destroyed them.

According to the port stakeholders, slow pace of auction and tangles in destroying the unclaimed goods have led to the stockpiling of dangerous and hazardous goods.  Out of the 14 sheds at Chittagong port, hazardous cargoes are stored at the Shed “P.” The containers carrying hazardous goods are kept at the container yards. Currently, different types of dangerous goods, imported since the last 28 years, have been kept in 134 drums and 55 pellets of Shed P.

It is to be mentioned that on July 15, a blazing fire broke out at Shed No 3 of the port and the blaze was finally doused after 17 hours of frantic efforts.  On April 22, 2015, four workers sustained burn injuries while unloading drums, loaded with methanol, from

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