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Two injured in Netherlands chemical plant blast

04 June 2014

A large explosion at a Shell plant in the Netherlands followed by a fire left two people injured late on June 3. The injuries are reported to be minor, regional officials said, adding that the explosion happened during a shift change. A huge flame shot up from the site and was visible miles around but the Moerdijk mayor, quoted by ANP news agency, said the smoke was not dangerous.

Shell's Moerdijk facility
Shell's Moerdijk facility

Fire experts decided to allow the fire to burn itself out in a controlled manner.

The fire broke out at after a number of explosions in an empty benzene reactor, releasing the chemical substance ethyl-benzene which officials said is not dangerous to health. A Dutch TV report said, however, that heavy metals had been found in one sample taken at the site and locals were being urged to avoid coming into contact with soot.

Shell's 790-acre chemical plant makes oil-based chemicals for use in synthetic fibres, paints, packaging, car tyres and antifreeze, among others.

Shell has been carrying out maintenance on two of its four plants in Moerdijk but it is not clear if the explosions are connected to that work. The public health institute RIVM is now carrying out further tests and officials will hold another briefing later on June 4.

The Shell complex is close to the Chemie-Pack factory on the Chemieweg in Moerdijk which was destroyed in a massive blaze in 2011.

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