BASF still searching for missing worker in Germany explosion

18 October 2016 20:17 Source:ICIS News

Firefighters battle the blaze at the BASF chemical company facility in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on Monday, 17 October 2016. (Xinhua News Agency/REX/Shutterstock)
Emergency officials say the blast probably threw the worker into a nearby harbour area. Firefighters battle the blaze at the BASF chemical company facility in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on Monday, 17 October 2016. (Xinhua News Agency/REX/Shutterstock)

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF and emergency experts were still searching for a missing worker on Tuesday afternoon following the fatal explosion and fire at the company’s petrochemicals production hub in Ludwigshafen, on the Rhine river in Germany, on Monday, officials said in an update.

The explosion probably threw the worker into a nearby harbour area, most likely killing him, and experts are using boats and divers in their search for the body, they said.

The two people confirmed to have died in the blast were both on-site BASF firefighters, they added.

Eight people suffered serious injuries while 17 suffered less serious injuries, according to a company update earlier on Tuesday.

Malu Dreyer, minister president (governor) of BASF’s home state of Rhineland Palatinate, said in a media briefing that the company, emergency experts and others "are doing all that can be done" to ensure that there was no danger to residents in the area.

"I think that BASF is doing all that is possible," she added. She visited fire headquarters in Ludwighafen to get a first-hand view of the situation.

Air quality measurements found "elevated levels" for some chemicals substances, and officials recommended that residents of certain nearby areas – Pfingstweide, Edigheim, Oppau und Friesenheim – avoid working outdoors or staying outdoors for prolonged periods, and that they keep doors and windows shut.

The German chemical major’s full-year earnings may be reduced by as much as 3% as the closure of its two steam crackers and other plants at the hub site affect ethylene and propylene value chains, an investment bank analyst said on Tuesday. Europe's benzene and styrene spot markets also reacted to the fire on Tuesday.

According to SWR, a German regional government television and media group, BASF so far this year reported 11 incidents at Ludwigshafen involving emissions or technical hiccups.

In its long history at Ludwigshafen, BASF had two catastrophic accidents: in 1921, more than 560 people died when an ammonia fertilizer mixture exploded, and in 1948 a tank railcar exploded, killing 207 people.

By Stefan Baumgarten