Muuga, Sillamäe ports pose no explosive risk comparable to Beirut incident

EuroChem fuel tanks at the Port of Sillamäe.
EuroChem fuel tanks at the Port of Sillamäe. Source: Mihkel Maripuu/Postimees/Scanpix

Kristi Talving, the director general of the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA), said at a press conference that the explosive ammonium nitrate has been completely removed from the ports of Muuga and Sillamäe under the conditions prescribed. The principal purchasers were Bulgaria and Turkey.

"There has never been a situation in Estonia comparable to that of Beirut, because storage conditions in Beirut were unsatisfactory and the fertilizers were stored with highly explosive products." Talving was unwilling to compare the situation in Estonian ports during the summer to the conditions in Beirut, where a nitrogen fertilizer-related explosion occurred in 2020. "Muuga's ammonium nitrate was kept in reinforced concrete dome-shaped bunkers spaced 10 meters apart. The chemical is well protected from outside influences "Talving explained.

Talving said that EuroChem Terminal Sillamäe and DBT stored potentially hazardous ammonium nitrate and ammonia in Sillamäe and Muuga, respectively, in line with the regulations. "These companies have been on the market for many years and have not been involved in any prior legal proceedings. Under ordinary circumstances, they would be handling transit operations," Talving said.

The most problematic aspect of the situation that occurred in the spring of 2022 was that the fertilizer subjected to sanctions would remain in Estonia for an unknown period of time. "With long-term storage, substances naturally undergo change, and the biggest concern was how long they would remain in Estonia," Talving explained.

The removal of all ammonium nitrate from ports has been completed. Talving stated, "Almost all of the ammonia has been removed from Sillamäe, with the exception of one amount, which will be removed shortly." He stated that the ammonia will be sent to Bulgaria and Turkey. Muuga and Sillamäe's bulk fertilizer has been sold to Estonian farmers.

Laura Aus, the deputy head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), said that they analyzed each and every sales transaction to verify that sanctions were not violated. "After the sale, the funds were frozen," Aus said.

By the end of December, the FIU had been notified of nearly €19.7 million in funds frozen at credit institutions due to financial sanctions.

Minister of Economic Affairs Kristjan Järvan said that the assets of EuroChem Terminal Sillamäe and DBT account for the lion's share of the frozen assets.ERR reported on Thursday that the Baltic agricultural company Scandagra, which purchased the sanctioned nitrogen fertilizer from a Russian company, has removed it from the port of Muuga.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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