Chemical blaze smoke contained a ‘cocktail’ of dangerous compounds

The thick black smoke released in the fire at a chemical packaging plant in Moerdijk earlier this week did contain dangerous substances, the Telegraaf and Nederlands Dagblad report on Friday.

The Telegraaf quotes petrochemical industry experts as saying an ‘entire cocktail’ of chemicals was released in the fire.
And in the Nederlands Dagblad, risk management professor Ira Helsloot points out it takes three days to show if dixoines were released in a fire. ‘And in a fire like this, we know that has happened,’ the paper quoted him as saying.
Low levels
According to public health body RIVM, the smoke did contain benzene, a known carcinogen, the solvent toluene which is dangerous when inhaled and other hydrocarbons.
But the organisation said the chemicals were not released in quantities which should give cause for concern.
Nevertheless, dozens of people have reported burning sensations in their eyes and throat, the paper says.
On Thursday, officials warned people not to let children play outside or eat vegetables from their gardens where soot particles have fallen.
Soot has been found in Dordrecht, Alblasserwaard, Ridderkerk, Spijkenisse, Rotterdam and Barendrecht, the paper says.
The Telegraaf quotes a former fire chief as saying the fire service in Moerdijk was not properly equipped to deal with a chemical fire. It also took too long to get enough fire fighters to the scene, Sjoerd de Jonge is quoted as saying.
The AD quotes safety experts who criticise the level of fire detection equipment at the plant.
An investigation into the cause of the blaze is now under way. Civil engineer Jan te Riele told the Financieele Dagblad: ‘Disasters usually occur because of mistakes in the production process or the handling of substances.’

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