Probe: Engen fire held no serious health risks

2008-02-16 00:00

The eThekwini Municipality’s in-depth probe into the massive blaze at the Engen oil refinery in November last year has revealed that there were no serious health risks.

According to a statement issued from municipal manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe’s office late yesterday afternoon, health concerns voiced by the local community have no foundation, according to results from samples taken at the scene of the fire.

The fire, which began when a bolt of lightning struck a petrol tank containing millions of litres of refined fuel during a storm, caused outrage amongst the local community.

They accused the municipality of failing to put in place an evacuation strategy and said that the fire itself would add further problems in an area that has long struggled with air pollution linked to the refinery and surrounding industry.

According to the statement, the city’s health unit, together with independent consultants, took extensive air quality samples on the night of the fire.

These revealed that exposure to particulates was minimal and would not have caused serious health problems. However, the report did not rule out that emissions from the fire would not have affected sensitive individuals, especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

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