The ship holding toxic chemicals from Beirut Port has departed Lebanese shores to be safely disposed of in Germany, nine months after the devastating explosion rocked the capital, the caretaker prime minister’s office said Wednesday.
Fifty-nine containers of chemical waste have been safely packaged and sent to Germany by Combi Lift, a German heavy lift transport company in charge of clearance operations in the port.
After 2,750 tons of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate detonated last August, killing 200 people, injuring thousands of residents and ravaging parts of the city, the alarm was raised over what else was kept at the site.
Consequently, the Lebanese government signed a contract with Combi Lift last November to clear dangerous material that had been negligently stored at the port for over a decade. The deal was reportedly worth $3.6 million, with Lebanon’s port authorities covering $2 million and the German government paying the rest.
Andreas Kindl, the German Ambassador to Lebanon, tweeted Wednesday that Amoenitas, the ship transporting the waste had finally set sail for Wilhelmshaven in Germany, relieving Beirut of the hazardous waste and the risk of further disasters.
“It will take weeks to destroy the chemicals that have been in the port of Beirut for decades” he said.
Combi Lift’s clearance operation in the port was completed back in February after they treated 52 containers which had been carelessly stored in open-air cargo zones. But they were unable to begin shipment because of a delay in payment from the Lebanese government.
Michael Wentler, Combi Lift’s chemical expert managing the work, told AFP at the time that the severity of the waste discovered in the port threatened a repeat blast: “We found substances that, if mixed together, would lead to an explosion.”
“You have like a sea or a river of yellow and green substances that came out. These chemicals were bubbling,” he added.