An explosion at the world’s largest chemical facility has killed two firefighters and shut down production. The explosion at BASF’s Germany plant near Frankfurt shut down the four square mile complex Monday that makes raw chemicals for BASF products. BASF is the world’s largest chemical company and says the facility is likely to face a prolonged shutdown. The complex is home to some 39,000 BASF employees. An extended shutdown may tighten earnings for BASF and benefit Dow Chemical, according to Bloomberg. There’s no word yet on how the shutdown might impact the production of BASF’s agriculture chemicals. BASF never joined the merger and acquisition trend within the agriculture chemical industry but did reportedly enter talks with Monsanto to sell-off BASF’s agriculture-solutions unit. However, that was before Bayer and Monsanto agreed on a merger worth $66 billion.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.
Update October 18, 11.00 a.m.: Current status after fire in North Harbor
The fire in the north harbor at BASF in Ludwigshafen on October 17 has been extinguished as of yesterday, 9.30 p.m. According to the latest information, two employees of the BASF fire department died as a result of the fire in the northern part of the site. Eight people were seriously injured, 17 others received light injuries. The injured were treated directly at the site or are being treated in local hospitals. One person is still missing. Six other people were treated at the BASF emergency room during the night and were able to return to their workplace thereafter.
“We are deeply saddened that two employees have died. As fire fighters they were devoted to saving lives. Our deepest sympathy lies with the affected people and their families,” says Margret Suckale, Member of the Board and Industrial Relations Director at BASF SE.
During work on a pipeline there was an explosion, which resulted in fires. The pipelines that burned included ones with ethylene and propylene product.
Ethylene and propylene are important basic materials in the chemical industry. Ethylene is used for the production of insulating materials and solvents, among others. Propylene is used for the production of automotive paints, dispersions and adhesives, among others.
The BASF fire department and the Ludwigshafen fire department are still on the scene to perform cooling and safety measures.
The extinguishing water is being fed into the sewage treatment plant at BASF. There is a barrier between the North Harbor and the Rhine River. Measurements do not show any elevated levels.
As the raw material supply is still interrupted, the steamcrackers remain shut down. Around 20 other plants are either shutdown or only partially running.
Gate 15 is closed until further notice. Truck drivers should contact their freight company for information on freight handling or wait at the parking area of the sewage plant at BASF until further notice from BASF employees.
BASF has set up an information center for the public at gate 11 since 7 a.m.
BASF will closely support the relevant authorities in investigating the cause of the accident.