A search continues for four employees who were missing. According to a report on German media outlet, DW, 31 others were injured in the blast, four of them seriously.
Emergency services took three hours to extinguish the fire that followed the explosion at 9.40am this morning at the Chempark site, where chemicals companies Bayer and Lanxess have plants, reported the park operator, Currenta.
More than 30 companies operate at the industrial park.
Chempark's Lars Friedrich said it was not clear what had caused the explosion the led to the fire that began in a tank containing solvents.
Currenta, in an update on its website, said that the rescue work continues at full speed. “Due to the temporarily unsecured power supply at the location, all administrative employees were asked to leave the location as a precaution.”
Germany's Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance categorized the explosion as "an extreme threat," and the blast registered at a seismological station 40 km away, according to Germany's dpa news agency.
Residents located near the industrial park have been advised to stay inside and close all doors and windows.
M-cresol, vitamin E production
In 2019, Lanxess, which produces an intermediate for the production of vitamin E, m-cresol, at the Leverkusen site, declared a force majeure for its product, due to what it called “unforeseeable technical problems”.
The shutdown at that stage exacerbated existing problems with the supply of vitamin E globally.
In 2017, German chemical giant, BASF, following a fire at its Citral production plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, was also forced to declare force majeure on all its Citral and Isoprenol-based aroma ingredients, with it extending the force majeure to its vitamin A and E production as well.
Germany's Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the explosion at the Chempark site operated by Currenta as "an extreme threat''.— DW Politics (@dw_politics) July 27, 2021
Operators of the chemical plant said it wasn't clear what caused the explosion.