'We cannot foresee the full impact of the incident on our nutrition and health business at this stage'

BASF plant explosion: third death confirmed

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/Mathisa_s
© istock/Mathisa_s

Related tags: BASF, Chemical industry, Material

The death toll in the explosion and subsequent fire at the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany has risen to three.

Divers from the Ludwigshafen and Mannheim fire departments had been searching for a person still missing after the fire that occurred at the chemical plant on Monday.

Today, BASF said the divers located a deceased person in the basin of the north harbor section of the site.

The Germany chemical group had confirmed yesterday two employees of the BASF fire department died as a result of the incident, eight people were seriously injured, and 17 others had received light injuries.

Unfortunately what we worst feared seems to have come true and we now have a third death to mourn. Our thoughts are with the families and the injured,”​ said Margret Suckale, member of the board of executive directors at BASF.

The company said it will continue to support the relevant authorities "as best as possible"​ during the investigation into the cause of the accident.

Food and feed additives are produced at the Ludwigshafen site, the largest chemical complex in the world. 

Tonia Theiss, a spokesperson for BASF, told FeedNavigator: “We cannot foresee the full impact of the incident on our nutrition and health business at this stage. The situation is still being assessed.”

Logistics update

In its latest logistics update, BASF said 24 plants were shut down at the complex due to the fire but some were able to continue producing using existing raw material inventory.

Following an intensive safety assessment, it said both of its steamcrackers in Ludwigshafen will be gradually restarted over the next few days. They were shut down as a result of the blaze in the North Harbor, as their raw material supply was interrupted. As a result, additional plants in the ethylene and propylene value chains were not operational or had reduced production.

Ethylene and propylene are among the key molecules in the chemical industry and they are preliminary products for plastics, paints, solvents, pesticides, vitamins and many more. 

The steamcracers are, therefore, normally operational 24 hours a day. They process around 2m tons of naphtha annually, which is transported to Ludwigshafen by ship and pipeline. Each year around 620,000 tons of ethylene and 350,000 tons of propylene are produced in both facilities.

When the steamcrackers are started up, most of the affected plants will also be gradually restarted or will increase production over the next few days, said the company.

However, the North Harbor is currently not operational, and BASF said it is currently preparing an alternative naphtha supply for the steamcrackers via the harbor on Friesenheim Island. This supply is decoupled from the incident area, it added.

The fire also damaged various pipelines including those for externally purchased raw materials, so BASF said it has declared Force Majeure for the purchase of naphtha, ethylene and propylene.

It said it is also evaluating how to minimize the impact on customer deliveries.   

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