24 October 2000 13:28 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--The gas leak which killed two maintenance contractors at a Ghent, Belgium titanium dioxide (TiO2) plant is likely to keep the facility closed until at least the end of this month, CNI learned on Tuesday.
The plant, which is operated by Kronos Europe, part of Houston, Texas-based NL Industries Inc, was shut when the leak occurred. (In an earlier story, it was incorrectly reported that the plant was operated by Krones Europe.)
Philip Volckaert, safety quality and environment manager at the approximately 55 000 tonne/year capacity plant, told CNI that the facility had been closed on Monday (23 October) for an annual maintenance programme scheduled to last five days. He said no decision had been taken on restarting the plant but indicated that it was unlikely to resume production this month.
An investigation into the leak, which occurred at about 10:30 hours (08:30 GMT) on Monday, is being carried out by both Kronos and Belgian safety authorities, said Volckaert.
He said the accident, in which two firemen were slightly injured, occurred when titanium tetrachloride leaked from a tank. Volckaert said it reacted with the atmosphere to produce hydrochloric acid and titanium dioxide.
The tank was being worked on by employees from maintenance contractor Fabricom, part of Belgian energy group Tractebel, he said.
Volckaert said Kronos would be able to supply customers from stocks, although he was unable to say how long such deliveries could be sustained while the plant was shut.
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