Chennai: PMK founder S Ramadoss on Thursday urged the government to take immediate steps to safely dispose of 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate reportedly stocked in Chennai harbour for years, saying a possible Beirut-like incident should be avoided.

Expressing concern over the reported huge quantity of seized ammonium nitrate kept in containers at a freight station here since 2015, he said, the uncleared explosive substance could turn out to be a potential risk and that it should be safely disposed of and utilised for purposes like composting.

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"There is a risk of a similar explosion due to ammonium nitrate in the Chennai warehouse. To prevent this, the ammonium nitrate explosive substance in the warehouse should be safely disposed of and used for other purposes such as composting," he said in a tweet.

Tuesday's explosion in Lebanon's port city of Beirut killed 135 people and injured about 5,000.

Buildings were damaged for miles around the city after 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive chemical used in fertilisers, stored at the facility for six years, reportedly caused the explosion.

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Apparently referring to media reports, the PMK leader said in another tweet, "The news that 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate explosive material have been stored in a warehouse near the Chennai port for five years is very shocking. This chemical substance is the cause of the biggest explosion in Lebanon!"

Reports in a section of the media claimed the ammonium nitrate stored in 37 containers in the city was imported by a Karur-based firm and seized by Customs officials as the chemical was brought without obtaining the required licence and permission in 2015.