Visakhapatnam: The deadly Beirut blast in Lebanon caused by Ammonium Nitrate has goaded the ministry of environment, forests, and climate change to suspend the environment clearance (EC) of a private firm storing the explosive material.

Sravan Shipping Services Ltd, the stevedoring company which handles Ammonium Nitrate, reportedly violated the safety norms and could not give a satisfying reply to the concerned authorities.

The joint chief environmental engineer, AP Pollution Control Board (APPCB), Vizag zonal office, in a statement, said the ministry had also issued a show-cause notice asking why the environment clearance should not be revoked for not adhering to the safety norms prescribed by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation under the guidelines of Ammonium Nitrate Rules of 2012.

Based on the response from the shipping company a decision on the environment clearance would be taken up by the ministry, the chief engineer said, adding the head office of APPCB had reviewed the Sravan Shipping facility on 12 August and issued directions to the company on 17 August.

On 14 August, the chairman of APPCB had issued directions to the chairman of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust stating not to engage Sravan Shipping Services in activities associated with the storage and handling of Ammonium Nitrate until further orders. This was followed by an APPCB letter on 17 August addressed to MoE&F regarding the violations of environmental clearance.

The board also wrote to the chief controller of explosives on 2 and 4 September requesting them to inform whether Sravan Shipping Services was conforming and complying with the conditions stipulated by PESO as per the license granted to them under Ammonium Nitrate Rules 2012 and whether the company has all the adequate safety measures. The board also asked the commissioner of police, Visakhapatnam, to review the adequacy of safety and security for stevedoring, storage, and transportation of Ammonium Nitrate due to the operations taken up by Sravan Shipping.

The chief engineer said as a result of initiatives taken by the district collector and APPCB, the commissioner of police issued show-cause notice to the facility for violation of the Ammonium Nitrate Rules and also wrote to the chief controller of explosives for further necessary action.

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