Five workers confirmed dead after Jilin blast

14 November 2005 13:53  [Source: ICIS news]

Yellow smoke after Jilin blastSHANGHAI (ICIS news)--A series of explosions that rocked Jilin Petrochemical’s aniline complex in northeastern China on Sunday has killed five people, company sources and state-media said on Monday.

A sixth worker was still missing but the chance for him to survive is very slim, an official with the provincial government at the site was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency. Two other employees, who were earlier reported to be seriously injured, are out of danger with more than 20 people hospitalised following the blast.

The explosions occurred at the 70,000 tonne/year aniline plant in Jilin city, Jilin province and initial investigations showed that they were caused by plant operators trying to unblock the plant's  nitrobenzene rectification tower.

A spokesman from Jilin’s parent company, PetroChina, said earlier that they were still assessing damages. The local government has been monitoring the air and water quality in the area, and further investigation into the explosion is being made, Xinhua said. The work on compensation for the explosion victims also started today.

“We will take lessons from this accident to improve safety facilities in production,” Yu Li, general manager of the CNPC Jilin branch was quoted as saying.

Another Jilin Petrochemical source said today that 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 said she heard a series of explosions, which shattered windows, and led to the temporary cut off of water and electricity supplies on Sunday. "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,’’ she said.

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 unaffected, JCIC sources said. 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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