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Propylene leak blamed for fatal Taiwan gas blasts

08.01.2014  | 

The causes of the explosions are still being investigated with initial assessments suggesting they followed a leak of propylene, a gas used to make plastics and fabrics, Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch said in a televised briefing. The fires are now under control.



Blasts caused by leaked gas overnight in Taiwan’s biggest port city killed at least 24 people and injured about 271, in what local television described as the nation’s deadliest gas explosion.

The blasts in Kaohsiung started just before midnight after reports of gas leaks began from 8:46 p.m., the National Fire Agency said in a statement on its website. Four policemen and fire fighters are among the dead, it said in a text message.

Images aired by broadcaster ETTV showed vehicles flipped on their sides as fires blazed in the early morning darkness, with Sanlih Television showing a car lodged in the third floor of a building. Part of a city street at least a block long was caved in, and store front windows were broken. Rescue workers were shown on TVBS combing through the rubble of homes looking for survivors.

The causes of the explosions are still being investigated with initial assessments suggesting they followed a leak of propylene, a gas used to make plastics and fabrics, Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch said in a televised briefing. The fires are now under control.

Kaohsiung resident Sydney Chen posted on his Facebook profile that he felt an explosion that resembled an earthquake before hearing screams from the street. His electricity was knocked out and he woke up his family to leave their home, according to the post.

The blasts cut gas supplies to 23,600 households, power to 7,536 households and 8,000 homes were without water as of 9:30 a.m., according to a statement on the Taiwan Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Makeshift Stretchers

Injured bystanders were shown resting in cars and nearby residents assembled makeshift stretchers to carry others to safety, Formosa Television showed. In all, 1,212 residents were relocated to safe places, according to the city government.

Southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung is the site of two of state-run CPC Corp.’s oil refineries as well as its naphtha crackers. The company halted some petrochemical deliveries following the blasts, company spokesman Chang Ray-chung said by phone. CPC and Formosa Petrochemical Corp. are Taiwan’s two major propylene producers. The island also imports the chemical.

Checks indicated a large amount of propylene likely leaked to sewage pipes, where the explosions occurred, Kaohsiung city spokesman Ting Yun-kung said by phone. An initial check showed a pipe linking China General Terminal & Distribution Corp. and LCY Chemical Corp. had an “abnormal” pressure drop, Ting said.

Shares Drop

LCY Chemical tumbled by the 7% daily limit in Taipei trading as of 12:08 p.m. local time. China Petrochemical Development Corp., which also runs propylene pipes through Kaohsiung, fell 4.9% and Hsin-Kao Gas Co. lost 2%. Taiwan’s benchmark Taiex index fell 0.5%.

Taipei-based LCY Chemical said its pipes located close to some of the explosion sites appear to be intact.

China Petrochemical halted a pipeline running through the blast sites as a precautionary measure, Vice President Jason Yu said by phone. Yu said the blasts didn’t occur in the company’s pipes.

Hsin-Kao Gas, a liquefied petroleum gas distributor based in Kaohsiung, halted gas supplies to about 23,000 customers on safety concerns, according to a stock exchange filing. The company doesn’t have pipes running through the explosion sites, Hsin-Kao said.

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Hirak Dutta

It is important to find out the root cause of such mishaps and share the RCA with all. We had a number of explosions in pipelines in recent past and must pay all attention to ensure we carry out pigging at regular intervals, act on IPS reports, undertake periodic maintenance, ensure right of way are not occupied including patrolling of the pipelines to ensure Safety of pipelines.

Jaime Bárcena -Mex.-

The force delivered by Taiwan blast could be caused by plastic C4 explosive, because hydrocarbon leakage could not accumulate itself in such large amount responsible to deliver the power of such explosion without leaving fire from the source of leakage at the end. And also such propylene leakage should be still happening indeed.

Historically there are some other big fires around the world that had happened to produce some other economical and political movements like Rome and London city fires that had something political issuances relationship in such times and also like Reichstag building fire for Hitler political ramp up. In Guadalajara city happened just a similar hydrocarbon leakage fire like Taiwan did so & also with “political” relationship as political movements results said indeed. Therefore Taiwan fire accident could be …

Virendra Kapoor

Such hydrocarbon fires are very deadly. It is of great concern when the amount is very large and the gas is heavier than air. .

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