Firemen worked through the night to put out a blaze at a Shell chemicals plant in Moerdijk near Rotterdam. The fire broke out at around 22.45 after a number of explosions in an empty benzene reactor.
Two people were slightly injured in the blasts, which were heard over a very wide area.
According to Nos television, the flames shot metres into the air but had died down after around an hour. Fire experts decided to allow the fire to burn itself out in a controlled manner.
The fire released the chemical substance ethyl-benzene which officials said is not dangerous to health, Nos television reports. However, ‘heavy metals’ have been found in one sample taken at the site and locals are being urged to avoid coming into contact with soot.
The public health institute RIVM is now carrying out further tests and officials will hold another briefing later on Wednesday morning. The area has been closed off to the public but most companies are open for business again on Wednesday morning, news agency ANP says.
The plant makes oil-based products which are used in the production of packaging, soft drink bottles, dvds, mattresses and car tyres.
The Shell complex is close to the Chemie-Pack factory on the Chemieweg in Moerdijk which was destroyed in a massive blaze in 2011.
Shell has been carrying out maintenance on two of its four plants in Moerdijk. It is not clear if the explosions are connected to the work.
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