Sources confirmed that a huge quantity of seized ammonium nitrate was in the custody of the Customs authorities here. “Every consignment has been mandated a unique procedure for safe keeping and I believe it is followed by our agencies also,” said a senior Customs official when contacted. He added that officials were checking the status of the seized explosive material that has been in the containers at a freight station in congested north Chennai since 2015. Sources said that the Petroleum, Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) is also looking into the present status of the seized chemical as it could turn lethal if kept unused for a long period. The ammonium nitrate stored in 37 containers was imported by a Karur-based firm and was seized because the chemical was brought in without obtaining the required licences and permission in 2015.
Ammonium nitrate is a crystal-like white substance, made in industrial quantities, as a source of nitrogen for producing fertilisers. It also used to create explosives for mining and other purposes. Due to its explosive nature, ammonium nitrate has been used by armies and terrorist organisations to engineer blasts across the world.