Explosion at Shell-BASF Moerdijk Plant Injures Two

06.06.2014 -

Two workers suffered minor burns, and ethylbenzene was released into the atmosphere following two explosions at the Moerdijk chemical complex in the Netherlands late on June 3.

Shell, which operates the styrene monomer and propylene oxide plant (SM/PO) for Ellba, the 50:50 joint venture with BASF, said concentrations of the chemical were too small to pose a threat to nearby neighborhoods. The site is 40 km southeast of Rotterdam.

Firefighters worked into the early morning hours to fight the blaze that broke out in a reactor undergoing maintenance.

Shell said an investigation was under way and that the extent of damage had not yet been calculated. Production in the rest of the complex was proceeding normally, it added.

The plant has capacity for 550,000 t/y of SM and 250,000 t/y of PO. Market reports said demand for the products spiked overnight.

The joint venture was expected to declare force majeure but had not yet done so at press time.