On January 1 of this year, there were six high-risk objects in Latvia where ammonium nitrate or mineral fertilizers containing it are or may be stored, in five of which more than 50 tons can or are stored, informed Anda Zaļepska, a public relations specialist of the State Environmental Service.
Another is a lower risk facility where more than 10 tonnes of ammonium nitrate or fertilizers containing it are or may be stored in one area.
However, the SES did not inform about the specific quantity that is currently stored.
However, the service explained that the largest of such high-risk objects is the temporary storage and transshipment complex of SIA “Riga fertilizer terminal” mineral fertilizers in Riga. Various types of mineral fertilizers are stored and handled at this facility, including dangerous ones containing ammonium nitrate.
VVD “Riga fertilizer terminal” has issued a permit for polluting activities, which sets the total maximum annual turnover of mineral fertilizers – 2 million tons, of which the annual turnover of hazardous fertilizers is set at 1 million 200,000 tons.
According to the information provided by the company, in 2019 792,801 tons of dangerous ammonium mineral fertilizers were handled, not exceeding the set annual amount. Each type of hazardous fertilizer has a fixed storage quantity of 65,000 tonnes for ammonium nitrate and 50,000 tonnes for stabilized ammonium nitrate.
Zaļepska emphasized that for the storage of dangerous mineral fertilizers, domed warehouses meeting the safety requirements have been built in the facility, where the specified storage parameters are controlled in automatic mode. Dangerous mineral fertilizers are stored in warehouses in quantities that do not exceed the total permitted capacity of the warehouses.
According to her, the infrastructure created by “Riga fertilizer terminal” is considered to be one of the most modern in Europe. The company may not import ammonium nitrate other than fertilizers or ammonium nitrate fertilizers that do not have a detonation test. Before each cargo of dangerous mineral fertilizers is brought into the territory of Latvia, the company submits the SES detonation tests, the SES representative added.
She also pointed out that complex inspections are carried out by the inspection commission every year. During these, no exceedances of the volumes of dangerous ammonium nitrate fertilizers stored simultaneously were detected. However, in 2018, the company exceeded the permitted annual amount of hazardous mineral fertilizers, for which proceedings were initiated in an administrative violation case, Zaļepska emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Riga City Council told LETA that “Riga Fertilizer terminal” can store up to 65,000 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate at a time. In turn, a total of 900,000 tons of ammonium nitrate can be handled during the year.
LETA has not yet been able to contact the company itself.
The representative of the SES emphasized that the European Union has uniform, strict requirements for the operation and supervision of such companies. She pointed out that all high-risk objects are closely monitored not only by the SES, once a year by conducting a complex inspection of the highest risk level, but once every three years by the SES, the State Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), the State Labor Inspectorate. , Representatives of the Consumer Rights Protection Center and the municipality.
This inspection assesses the technical condition of the facility, organizational issues, in particular safety management systems, documentation, operation of equipment, use and storage of hazardous substances, fire safety regulations, emergency preparedness, compliance with occupational safety and health, environmental and civil protection requirements and monitoring by the responsible person. inspection. In addition, the SES carries out planned inspections of these facilities to verify the company’s compliance with environmental requirements. Additional inspections are also carried out in response to complaints.
She explained that a Safety Report should be prepared for all high-risk sites, but for lower-risk sites – in the Industrial Accident Risk Prevention Program. These documents assess the risks and potential hazards of industrial accidents as the company plans and implements risk mitigation measures to prevent industrial accidents caused by hazardous chemicals. The possible consequences of an industrial accident are also assessed, as well as the possibility of a domino effect and the measures to be taken. Also, these objects must develop a site civil protection plan, an off-site civil protection plan.
She added that according to the Law on the Circulation of Fertilizers, a person wishing to purchase a fertilizer with an ammonium nitrate nitrogen content of 16% or more by weight of the fertilizer must present a declaration from the buyer that the fertilizer will only be used for plant fertilization, as well as the trader must indicate in the accounting register the taxpayer’s registration number of the buyer for legal persons or the personal identification code for a natural person.
The Riga City Council also emphasized to LETA that such companies are closely monitored and performed by several institutions.
Specialists of the Housing and Environment Department of the Riga City Council also participate in the work of the Industrial Accident Risk Assessment Commission of the State Environmental Monitoring Bureau as invited persons. Also, during the development of a polluting activity permit, the Environment Board of the Housing and Environment Department submits its proposals to the SES.
The municipality has also developed a Riga Civil Protection Plan, which also includes questions about the Freeport of Riga. Civil protection plans of companies with increased danger objects have been submitted to the municipality and published on the website, the council explained.
The municipality admitted that due to the transition to the new unified platform of state and municipal websites, due to the large volume, some documents had not yet been transferred from the old website to the new one, but now it has been done.
As reported, the SFRS, in accordance with its competence, regularly inspects high-risk objects, including storages of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate, but in recent years no significant violations have been identified, SFRS spokeswoman Agrita Vītola told LETA.
The State Security Service (SSD) also confirmed to LETA that the service regularly inspects critical infrastructure objects, including companies in the territory of which explosive substances are stored. The Service regularly cooperates with the representatives of these objects.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Freeport of Riga Authority Liene Ozola told LETA that there is one specialized mineral cargo transshipment terminal operating in the Freeport territory – the already mentioned “Riga Fertilizer terminal”. According to her, it is the most modern and safest fertilizer handling and temporary storage terminal in Northern Europe.
As explained by the port representative, the terminal was put into operation at the end of 2013 and a large part of the funds was invested directly in environmentally safe, internationally recognized and modern cargo handling and storage technologies.
Ozola emphasized that in accordance with the procedures prescribed by law, Civil Defense training is organized in high-risk terminals at least once a year, this year it is planned in November. At the same time, the company also organizes internal training for its operational group employees on a monthly basis.
Ozola emphasized that in order to take care of the preventive supervision and control of the risks of increased danger and polluting cargo movement, the companies of the Port of Riga must comply with a number of security requirements and regulations adopted by the responsible organizations of Latvia and the Latvian state.
It was also reported that 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in agricultural fertilizers exploded in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, which was stored in a port warehouse for six years.
More than 100 people have been killed and around 4,000 injured in the explosions in the port of Beirut, but another 100 have gone missing. The explosions took place in the port area. The second explosion fired a huge orange fire bomb into the sky, followed by a shock wave that devastated the port and surrounding buildings, smashing windows several kilometers away.