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Could big batteries outsize the Beirut fertilizer explosion?

A worrisome prospect: many new agricultural buildings that contain huge batteries storing electricity for the National Grid – a new form of crop for farmers scrambling to cash in on the 'green' energy revolution - might be deadly explosive. Per a report from leading physicists, these vast batteries can potentially explode with the force of hundreds of tons of TNT.

Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford University and co-author of the report, noted that they may result in huge explosions, fires and clouds of toxic gas that would devastate towns and villages nearby

These batteries are reserved for storing spare electricity when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun fails to shine. As a green solution to the energy crisis, they're spreading around the British countryside.

It’s like a potential bomb,’ Allison says. ‘When batteries catch fire, you can’t just squirt water on them and put out the flames. It’s evident from our research that nothing has been done to tackle this problem.’

Given the size of the proposed plants, Allison fears it could result in an explosion several times bigger than the one that destroyed the harbour in Beirut last year.

The threat of fire is not just theoretical. In South Korea, 23 battery farm fires occurred in just two years. Such blazes release highly toxic gases. One – hydrogen fluoride – is lethal if inhaled, and causes irreversible health effects after an hour of exposure.

3 – 4,000 people were evacuated in Illinois the week before last as a similar incident occured; whereby 100 tons of batteries burned for days.

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