Catastrophic Risk Series - Beirut Explosion

Risk Matters X.0

13-08-2020 • 48 mins

Let's talk Catastrophic Risk. How have major industrial incidents, transportation accidents, terrorist attacks and natural disasters changed our understanding of risk? A fire at the Port of Beirut, on Lebanon's northern Mediterranean coast, and subsequent ammonium nitrate explosion on 4 August 2020 has brought new public awareness as we investigate how this devastating incident occurred.

In this episode, Host Matt Mowrer seeks answers from experts from ABS Group’s Extreme Loads and Structural Risk division. This specialized engineering team analyzes blast effects to understand how we can make buildings safer and more resilient to withstand disasters. Incident investigators Darrell Barker and Ben Harrison share technical insights on what we know about ammonium nitrate and what we can learn from these catastrophic incidents to improve awareness and better manage risk.

"This is the first large-scale ammonium nitrate event that has occurred in a major city during the smart phone era, in the daytime. So, we have tons of photo and video evidence [to analyze] what happened here," Matt Mowrer, ABS Group Director.

This series focuses on Catastrophic Risk and the outcomes from historic events that have shaped regulations and industry practices to manage the risk from man-made and natural disasters. Stay tuned for more risk matters.

About the Guests:

Ben Harrison, P.E.
is a technical director in the Extreme Loads and Structural Risk division of ABS Group. Ben has led and actively participated in over 20 fire and explosion incident investigations during his professional career. His areas of expertise include the design, analysis, testing and investigation of structures subjected to energetic loads, including extreme wind, blast and debris impact. His responsibilities have included surveying structural damage to determine the magnitude of explosion blast loads, directional indicator mapping to determine explosion sources, fire mapping, evidence collection and storage to maintain chain of custody, deconstruction planning, regulatory interface support and root cause analysis. Some of his more notable investigation experience includes the 1998 DeBruce Grain Elevator explosion, the 2005 BP Refinery Explosion and the 2013 West Fertilizer Explosion.

Darrell D. Barker, P.E.
is Vice President of the Extreme Loads and Structural Risk division. With over 37 years of experience in blast resistant design and construction, Darrell is a recognized industry leader in this field and speaks extensively on the subject to industry groups and government agencies. He has published more than 40 papers on explosion effects research and development as well as practical approaches to protection of structures against explosion hazards.

Darrell manages a unit of 50 professionals located across the U.S. specializing in structural analysis and design for building structures and offshore equipment subjected to extreme wind, seismic and blast loads. This division conducts structural reliability analysis for clients domestically and internationally who require innovative solutions to challenging problems.

Darrell is active on several industry committees which address blast resistant design including the American Concrete Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has been a contributing author for technical publications, including Design of Blast Resistant Building in Petrochemical Facilities and the AISC Design Guide 56 Design of Blast Resistant Structures. He also chaired ACI Committee 370 on Short Duration Dynamic and Vibratory Effects and is a founding member of the Protective Glazing Council.

Produced by Nancy Dunnahoe and Oscar Diaz, Digital Communications at ABS Group

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