18/03/2008, Plastics & Rubber Weekly

Ethylene pipeline in Germany catches fire / protests against Bayer´s CO pipeline

Rail and motorway routes closed, acryl nitrile reported to have exploded.

A leak in an ethylene pipeline at Ineos’s West Germany plant at 2:30pm yesterday caused a severe fire and smoke from the highly inflammable material. The blaze at the Dormagen site also spread to a neighbouring tank of acryl nitrile and local residents were asked to remain in closed spaces with windows and doors closed.
By the evening, there were reports circulating in German media revealing that a 500 metre high cloud of black smoke had been moving towards Cologne. The nearby Cologne-Neuss railway line - under which the ethylene pipe passes - as well as the A57 motorway, to and from Cologne, were closed due to poor visibility because of the smoke.
The ethylene pipeline that runs from Antwerp in Belgium to the Marl chemical site well to the north of Dormagen was closed.
Aside from the direct effects of the fire, the event may fuel the protest action that has been aimed in the wider area at Bayer’s planned carbon monoxide pipeline. This will run between Dormagen and its Krefeld-Uerdingen site to the north of Düsseldorf. It is planned to run past Mettmann alongside the A3 Cologne-Düsseldorf motorway that carries 100,000 vehicles/day.
The local Mettmann-based Radio Neanderthal radio station this morning said the ethylene pipeline blaze resulted in 15m high “tower-high flames” and that 1,200 firemen were in attendance.
The station said the fire was extinguished by midnight last night and confirmed online reports that the affected 3,000 cubic metre tank contained acryl nitrile. They added that the “highly toxic” liquid had escaped and still representing a hazard to local residents in nearby Worringen.
The Ineos plant is located in the same six square kilometre Chempark Dormagen chemical park. Other firms with facilities there include Bayer, Lanxess chemical and rubber plants, ABS plastics and Dralon textile fibres plus transport company Hoyer.
In a local WDR radio station report last night there was also reference to a gas tank having to be cooled to prevent it too from exploding. By David Vink in Mettmann