BASF details aboutexplosion in Ludwigshafen, Germany

BASF details about the explosion in Ludwigshafen, Germany

6:39 AM, 28th October 2016
Smoke and fire rise from a facility belonging to chemical firm BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 17 Oct.
Smoke and fire rise from a facility belonging to chemical firm BASF in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on 17 Oct. © Wall Street Journal

LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY: BASF SE gives a detailed information on the explosion that happened on 17 October at the North Harbor in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

“We mourn for the death of 3 people in the fire. Our deepest compassion is with their families and friends. Many people were injured, we hope that they are on the way to recovery,” said Dr Kurt Bock, chairman of the board of executive directors of BASF.

As of now the following data is known about the mishap:

Casualties: Two workers of the BASF fire department and a representative of a tanker which anchored in the harbour died in the mischance. Eight people were extremely injured; 22 others were faintly injured. One of the seriously injured has been discharged from the hospital.

The course of events: The event course is yet being inspected by the public prosecutor’s office of Frankenthal. The site of the incident is still closed. A couple of days prior to the incident, a specific pipeline construction company began to conduct assembly works on a collapsed and secured ethylene pipeline route. The aim of the assembly works was to exchange several parts of the pipeline as a preventive maintenance measure.

A fire started at 11:30 am near the assembly works. Forces of the BASF fire department, emergency service and environment protection arrived a few minutes later at the incident area and immediately started emergency operations. During the operations, an explosion, most likely at the ethylene pipeline, occurred. The explosion led to subsequent fires at various points along the pipeline trench, damaging further product and supply pipelines. Additional emergency forces immediately began rescue measures as well as extinguishing and cooling measures.

The fire brigade performed controlled burning of the leaking  products in accordance with the fire-fighting concept for compressed gases. The pipelines that burned included those used for ethylene, propylene, a butylene product mix (raffinate), pyrolysis gasoline and ethylhexanol. And around 9.30 pm the fire was extinguished.

Ecological effect: Following the begin of the fire, thorough air estimations were conducted at the site gate and in areas surrounding the site in Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. This showed no high levels of hazardous substances, as confirmed by the environmental ministry of Rheinland-Pfalz and the city of Ludwigshafen.

In addition, measurements conducted by the cities of Speyer, Worms and Frankenthal showed no elevated levels. Raised levels measured locally were restricted to the immediate area of the incident. Water samples also showed no high levels of hazardous substances. A contamination of the ground at the incident site is likely.

Safety at the site: Safety is the first priority on the Ludwigshafen site as well as globally at BASF. Environmental protection, health and safety are important components of the corporate values and objectives. BASF acts responsibly and always gives priority to safety when operating existing plants or planning and constructing new plants.

Confirmed by inspections conducted by various relevant authorities as well as internal audits, the plants on-site are in consistent condition. The inspections resulted in no technical or organizational deficiencies.

Financial impacts: Due to the fire, the raw material supply of the steamcrackers was stopped; also other Verbund plants, especially in the ethylene and propylene value chains, the manufacture was decreased. Some of the plants were able to continue producing using existing raw material inventory. Meanwhile, several plants, like the steamcrackers, started production. In the coming weeks, the remaining plants will be slowly resumed.

The situation of the Logistic: The North Harbor is presently not operational. The riverside harbour, the harbour on Friesenheim Island and the tank farms are functional. Fluids can be handled at the harbour on Friesenheim Island. At the river harbour, fluids and solids can be handled.

However, the registration for trucks will be taken care via the parking space of the sewage plant of BASF for the next few days. The intermodal transport terminal is still closed. The facility is not damaged and preparations are being done to reopen it in the upcoming week. The railway system was also not damaged by the incident. The train service on-site is available. 

The company is estimating several measures to minimise the effect on customer deliveries and informing them about the current availability of products.

© Worldofchemicals news

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