THE DEVASTATING explosion that rocked the Lebanese city of Beirut last week was caused by a form of nitrogen fertiliser banned in Australia since 2004.
Around 2750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in the deadly blast at the city's port which wire reports said killed an estimated 130 people and has decimated Lebanon's grain storage network.
The magnitude of the blast can be comprehended when compared to the Oklahoma City bombings in the US where terrorists used just two tonnes of ammonium nitrate to set off explosions that killed 168 people.
Ammonium nitrate came under fire in Australia in the wake of September 11.
Authorities were concerned about the threat of ammonium nitrate being used by terrorists for bombs and it was phased out, with less volatile forms of nitrogen fertiliser taking its place.
The compound is still used as a fertiliser, as well as an explosive in the mining industry, with around 20 million tonnes produced globally a year.
The material that blew up in Beirut had been sitting in storage since 2013.
It has not yet been identified exactly what caused the fertiliser to ignite.
Meanwhile, the explosion has also raised food security concerns in Lebanon.
It was reported that over 15,000 tonnes of grain was lost in the explosion, along with the storage facility.
With Lebanon heavily reliant on imported grain there are worries there could be temporary food shortages as a result of the explosion.
The vast majority of Lebanon's grain imports come in via the Beirut port where the explosion took place.