Fire Disruption Leads to Temporary Closure of Pyrolysis Unit at BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals
Fire Disruption Leads to Temporary Closure of Pyrolysis Unit at BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals

Fire Disruption Leads to Temporary Closure of Pyrolysis Unit at BASF TotalEnergies Petrochemicals

  • 07-Sep-2023 12:53 PM
  • Journalist: Harold Finch

A fire incident and subsequent tower collapse at a facility jointly operated by BASF and Total Energies prompted evacuations and emergency response actions. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the fire occurred in a unit where no processing was underway at the time. Fortunately, the situation was swiftly managed, with no reported injuries.

The TCEQ provided insights into the incident, highlighting that the tower in question was inactive when the fire ignited. This key detail indicates that there were no ongoing operations or processes in the unit that could have exacerbated the situation. The focus then shifted to controlling the fire and mitigating potential environmental impacts.

In the firefighting efforts, specialized resources and "firewater" were employed to combat the blaze. The TCEQ reported that these firefighting measures effectively contained the fire, preventing it from spreading further within the facility or posing additional risks.

The timeline of events reveals the swift progression of the incident. The fire initially erupted at approximately 10:45 a.m., with BASF's Shelly Vitanza providing this crucial timestamp. Within just over an hour, at 11:55 a.m., the situation took a more critical turn when the extractive dissolution tower, an integral part of the facility's infrastructure, collapsed. This structural failure marked a significant development in the unfolding emergency.

As a result of the tower's collapse, safety protocols were immediately activated. According to Vitanza, all employees who were not directly involved in addressing the fire and managing the tower's collapse were swiftly evacuated from the premises. This evacuation was conducted with a high degree of urgency, commencing at approximately 12:20 p.m. The decision to evacuate was undoubtedly influenced by the potential risks associated with the tower collapse and the ongoing firefighting efforts.

It's worth noting that the facility where the incident occurred is a collaborative venture between two industry giants, BASF and Total Energies. Such collaborations are commonplace in the energy and chemical sectors, allowing companies to pool resources, expertise, and investments to drive innovation and operational efficiency. However, as demonstrated in this incident, it also means that both companies share responsibility for the facility's safety and incident response.

In conclusion, the fire and subsequent tower collapse at the BASF and Total Energies joint venture facility prompted swift and coordinated emergency response efforts. The TCEQ confirmed that the fire occurred in a unit without ongoing processing, indicating that there were no active operations that could have worsened the situation. The containment of the fire and the evacuation of non-essential personnel were executed successfully, resulting in no reported injuries. This incident serves as a reminder of the critical importance of safety protocols and emergency preparedness in industrial settings, particularly in facilities with high-risk potential.

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