Fire at chemical plant on Stanlow refinery site

Article by Amanda Doyle

A fire broke out yesterday at a chemical plant on the same site as the Stanlow oil refinery in Cheshire, England.

The fire occurred at the Shell Higher Olefins Plant (SHOP) at around 14:00 on 22 August and fire engines from five different locations were sent to the site. The fire was extinguished by late afternoon. All staff were evacuated and accounted for, and no-one was injured.

The SHOP is on the same site as the 200,000 bbl/d Stanlow oil refinery, owned by Essar, but is separated from the refinery by a road and rail tracks. The refinery produces 16% of Britain’s transport fuels per year, which is around 4.4bn L of diesel, 3bn L of petrol, and 2bn L of jet fuel.

The Cheshire Fire Service said: “Crews from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service along with onsite firefighters from Essar quickly brought the fire under control and it was fully extinguished within three hours. The fire caused a large plume of smoke above the site, which has now dispersed. The incident was confined to the manufacturing area of the site and did not affect the refinery. All staff within the affected area were evacuated as a precaution and there were no reports of any injuries.”

Inspector Richard Reeves from Cheshire Police said: “We understand that this incident may have caused alarm to the local community and we would like to reassure people that it has not affected the wider area and there are not believed to be any risks to the public.”

Essar said that operations and production of fuels and other products from the refinery have not been affected, and supplies to customers are normal.

The proximity of the refinery to Thornton Science Park, where the University of Chester has relocated its science and engineering faculty, had resulted in retrospective planning permission for the faculty being rejected. The University is currently appealing this decision, and it is unknown if the fire will affect the appeal. The Chemical Engineer contacted the University of Chester for a reaction on how the incident might affect the future of its science and engineering faculty. As we go to press no comment has been received.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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