AN explosion at the 108,000 bbl/d Natref refinery in Sasolburg, South Africa, owned jointly by Sasol and Total, has closed part of the refinery.
Sasol says that the blast happened at 07:45 local time on 22 May “in the vicinity of the hydrogen compressors”, and was followed by a fire. Commentators on Twitter reported hearing and feeling the blast and windows rattling 30 km away. All personnel were evacuated from the site and the fire was extinguished by 08:45.
Eight people were treated for shock, while three were treated for dust inhalation and three were treated for minor injuries, according to Sasol’s statement. However, private ambulance firm ER24, whose paramedics attended the scene, says that a bystander sustained moderate injuries while a further ten had minor injuries. ER24 adds that those injured were treated at the scene before being transported to a nearby medical centre.
All the operating units near the hydrogen compressors have been closed down. The likely cause of the explosion has not been revealed, but an investigation has already begun to determine exactly what happened and the impact on the refinery’s production.
“Natref takes incidents of this nature very seriously. The safety and wellbeing of our employees, service providers and communities is a priority,” said Sasol in a statement.
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