Japan's Nippon Shokubai Himeji plants shut by weekend blast

01 October 2012 07:46  [Source: ICIS news]

TOKYO (ICIS)--Nippon Shokubai’s acrylic acid and super absorbent polymer (SAP) facilities at Himeji in western Japan was shut by an explosion over the weekend that killed a fire-fighter, a company spokesperson said on Monday.

The resulting fire at the site raged on for more than 24 hours until it was extinguished on Sunday afternoon.

A total of 35 people, including fire-fighters, police officers and Nippon Shokubai workers, were injured from incident, according to local media reports, but no official data was released.

At 13:00 hours local time (04:00 hours GMT) on 29 September, plumes of smoke were detected to be coming from a temporary storage tank for acrylic acid and toluene at the plant site. This led up to the blast at 14:40 hours on Saturday, Nippon Shokubai said in a statement.

Nippon Shokubai was ordered to suspend all operations at all its facilities at Himeji , including a 460,000 tonne/year acrylic acid and a 320,000 tonne/year unit for SAP, which is a feedstock for diaper production, although the plants were not damaged, the spokesperson said.

No definite date was set on when the plants can restart as the explosion and its attendant fire on 29 September had damaged some other storage tanks at the site, the spokesperson said.

A Nippon Shokubai executive was quoted as saying in a 30 September press conference that the company would raise operating rates at its overseas acrylic acid and SAP plants during the shutdown of the Himeji facilities.

Prior to the explosion at the Himeji site, the company’s overseas plants were running at an average rate of around 90%.
Nippon Shokubai’s plants overseas have the ability, at times, to run at more than 100% of capacity, he said.

The company’s Himeji production facilities cater to about 18% of the annual 1.8m tonnes global SAP demand and 10% of the 4m tonnes world’s acrylic acid demand per year.

Nippon Shokubai has a total acrylic acid capacity of 620,000 tonnes/year, with facilities in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and the US. For SAP, its total production capacity is 470,000 tonnes/year, with plants in Japan, Belgium and the US, the company spokesperson said.


By: Tomomi Yokomura
+65 6780 4359



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