SBMA: Ammonium nitrate stored safely at Subic port
SAN ANTONIO, ZAMBALES –– After the Beirut explosion, officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) were quick to assure the public that the ammonium nitrate kept inside the Subic Bay Freeport is properly stored and monitored.
Wilma Eisma, SBMA chairman and administrator, said explosives manufacturer Orica Inc. is renting 17 bunkers in the middle of the mountains inside the former US naval base. But only eight of these are being used to store ammonium nitrate.
“The bunkers were specifically used by the US Navy [before] to stock nuclear warheads. Each bunker, which is almost 1-meter thick, is now used by Orica Inc. to store ammonium nitrate that it uses in construction and mining,” Eisma said in a radio interview.
Eisma said ammonium nitrate is immediately unloaded from ships and transferred to the storage area when the chemical arrives at Subic Bay.
“The chemicals are not kept at the port area,” Eisma said.
She said personnel from the Philippine National Police’s Special Action Force are deployed to the bunkers to ensure the safety of the chemicals.
“I immediately reached out to authorities after what happened in Lebanon. While I have been briefed before, nagpaulit pa ako (I had a repeat briefing) to be sure that we are taking the right steps in handling the said ammonium,” Eisma said.
Eisma said the chemical needs a blasting cap for it to explode and Orica’s storage of blasting caps is at its distant factory in Limay, Bataan.
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