Possible consequences of ammonia pipeline explosion in Kharkiv region

Ammonia pipeline explosion in Kharkiv region: Possible aftermath

2:44

On June 5, a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group blew up the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, the Russian Ministry of Defence said. 

The explosion occurred at about 21:00 in the area of the village of Masyutovka, the Kharkiv region. The department called the attack a terrorist act. The ammonia pipeline was depressurised and "ammonia residues were being bled from the Ukrainian territory," the department said. 

The Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline was built to export ammonia from Russia to Europe. This is the only ammonia pipeline in Russia. The pipeline is 2,417 kilometres long. As much as 40 percent of the pipeline runs via Ukraine. In 2020, the pipeline transported two million tons of ammonia. In 2022, the pipeline ceased to function.

The launch of the ammonia pipeline is one of Russia's conditions for extending the grain deal: ammonia is used in the agricultural industry. In December, the UN promised to open the ammonia pipeline by the end of 2022.

When ammonia is released into the air, it mixes with aqueous vapour and leads to the creation of a poisonous cloud that drifts over the ground. Such a cloud can travel great distances endangering living beings and humans.

Ammonia is a very aggressive substance. Upon contact, ammonia irreversibly damages living cells and leads to their death. The presence of ammonia in the environment, for example in air or water, may cause irritation and severe burns to the skin, mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. Very high levels of ammonia may cause blindness and damage the lungs.

Ammonia gas deteriorates surface layers of the lung epithelium, which increases the risk of developing a bacterial or fungal infection in victims. Acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute pulmonary injury are also common complications of ammonia poisoning.

Ammonia fumes may burn leaves and cause irreparable damage to crops. Ammonia is harmful to aquatic organisms even at extremely low concentrations. For example, the rupture of an ammonia pipeline in Kansas, USA, in 2004, led to the death of more than 25,000 fish, including endangered species.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova
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Editor Dmitry Sudakov
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