BEIRUT — Caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin told local media Tuesday that the dust that emerged following the collapse of the Beirut port silos’ northern block “fortunately traveled toward the sea,” nonetheless advising people close to the port to wear masks.
Here’s what we know:
• The remaining eight silos of the Beirut port silos’ northern block collapsed Tuesday morning, sending up a cloud of dust, L’Orient Today’s correspondent at the scene confirmed, leaving behind the southern block consisting of 12 silos that are believed to be stable.
• Yassin said Tuesday morning that the air quality in the surrounding port area would be examined by the army’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention Brigade and the environmental laboratories at the American University of Beirut. He recommended wearing face masks near the port for protection from the potential spread of fungi from fermented grain in the silos. Yassin's advisor Mohammed Abiad told L'Orient Today that any test results reporting on fungi in the air will not be available before next Monday as the tests usually take about five days to complete, noting that the ministry will issue an update about the air quality later this afternoon.
• The next steps would include removing the rubble around the remaining silos of the intact southern section and “treating the debris and grain to prevent any fire sources,” Yassin told local media, adding that “the Civil Defense can now approach [the silos] and control the fire.” The silos have been ablaze since July and rescue teams were barred from approaching the silos within a 500-meter radius for safety reasons
• Yassin pointed out that there is “a tendency toward reinforcing the southern silos section, which is still stable for now, after consulting engineers and technical studies and determining the financial cost.”
• Experts have previously reassured that the silos’ southern block is stable and should not be affected by the collapse of the northern block.