One dead, five missing in Jilin Petchem blasts

14 November 2005 05:07  [Source: ICIS news]

Blasts at Jilin PetrochemicalBy Florence Tan

SHANGHAI (ICIS news)--An employee of China’s Jilin Petrochemical is dead after a series of explosions rocked an aniline complex, government officials and company sources told ICIS news on Monday.

One source said five other employees were missing. More than 20 people were hospitalised and two were seriously injured, he added. "Some of them were cut by broken glass from the blasts,’’ said the source.

The explosions occurred at the 70,000 tonne/year aniline plant in Jilin city, Jilin province, on Sunday afternoon. Initial investigations revealed they were caused by plant operators trying to unblock its nitrobenzene rectification tower.

A spokesman from Jilin’s parent company, PetroChina, said they were still assessing damages.

Another Jilin Petrochemical source said a second 70,000 tonne/year aniline unit at the site was operating normally. He added that since the company buys benzene feedstock for the aniline plants, benzene purchases could stop. He gave no indication of volumes.

Company sources confirmed that a 120,000 tonne/year phenol/acetone plant, housed in the same complex as the aniline plants, had resumed operations after shutting down for a day on Sunday.

Although the aniline and phenol/acetone plants were centrally located within the complex, other plants were unaffected by the blasts. Jilin Petrochemical produces 240,000 tonne/year of oxo-alcohols, 160,000 tonne/year of monoethylene glycol (MEG), 60,000 tonne/year of ethylene oxide (EO), 140,000 tonne/year of styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), 210,000 tonne/year of butadiene and 180,000 tonne/year of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

A Jilin resident told ICIS news that she heard a series of explosions which shattered windows. Water and electricity supplies were cut off on Sunday, she added. "Tap water turned red when the explosion occurred. Utilities supply has resumed but the water is yellow and we don’t dare to use it. My boss went to the outskirts to buy water,’’ said the resident.

A Jilin Production and Safety Bureau official told ICIS news that the fire had been put out and the aniline unit, which was commissioned in 2003, was shut down. He added that the situation was under control and residents and employees were allowed to return to the site on Monday.

Most of Jilin Chemical Industrial Co’s (JCIC’s) plants, located on the eastern side of the Jilin Petrochemical compound, were also unaffected, said JCIC sources. JCIC has a 7m tonne/year refinery, a 700,000 tonne/year cracker, a 300,000 tonne/year high-density polyethylene (hdPE) unit, 270,000 tonne/year linear low-density PE (lldPE) unit, a 40,000 tonne/year acrylic acid unit, a 980,000 tonne/year benzene, toluene and mixed xylenes (BTX) plant and a 140,000 tonne/year styrene unit.

Yeow Pei Lin and Jake Zhang contributed to this story.

By: Florence Tan
+65 6780 4359

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