Another blast shakes Engen refinery

2007-12-07 00:00

Engen confirmed that another fire — the second in less than a month — broke out at just after 3 pm.

According to refinery spokesman Herb Payne, the fire started in the vacuum unit, but was extinguished within five to 10 minutes. There were no injuries.

“The vacuum unit produces feedstock for the production of lubricants. The fire, which stemmed from a leaking flange, resulted in a plume of black smoke that went straight up in the air and is not expected to have any impact on the community. Though crude oil throughput was stopped when the fire started, production at a reduced rate has been resumed,” he said.

He added that, at this stage, it is too early to estimate the cost of the incident or its impact on production.

According to Desmond D’Sa, chairman of the South Durban Environmental Alliance, it is the fourth major fire this year and the third one since July 3. “We have heard so much from our municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe on the emergency plan for south Durban and yet we have seen little action from him,” he said.

However, it appears that this fire was minor compared to the one that began on November 19 in a tank holding 7,5 million litres of refined petrol. It caused millions of rands of damages. Residents reported breathing problems from the huge clouds of black smoke and protested that there was no evacuation procedure for the area.

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