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1 Injured in Explosion at BASF Site

Thursday, February 28, 2013

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An explosion at BASF’s plant construction site in Germany has injured one worker, the giant chemical manufacturer said on Tuesday (Feb. 26).

No immediate reason was given for the explosion at BASF's Ludwigshafen toluene diisocyanate (TDI) plant, but early reports speculated that excavation work may have detonated a World War II-era explosive.

Photos: BASF

An explosion was reported on Tuesday (Feb. 26) at BASF's plant construction site in Germany. Early speculation is that the accident was caused by excavation work.

CEO Addresses Explosion

During the 2012 annual results press conference, BASF SE CEO Kurt Bock briefly discussed the accident. 

The scheduled press conference was webcast live and took place approximately 30 minutes after the explosion was reported on Tuesday.

Just under an hour into the conference, Bock stopped to address the media about the situation at the TDI plant, saying (translated from German):

"As you are all members of the press, and we just released a piece of information at 10 o'clock. At our TDI constuction site, a big complex, we had a detonation.

"One worker was injured. He had to go to the hospital. It says he is not seriously injured. I hope this is correct.

"We can only speculate what the reason for the detonation was. Excavating work was underway. You know that also in the past we found material from World War II here, but this is just speculation. We can not give you more detailed information.

"I wanted to inform you directly. There are no environmentally harmful gases or anything like this. I hope the worker will recover soon. We will keep you posted."

An email request to BASF's media relations in Ludwigshafen for further details did not receive an immediate response.

One news outlet reported that members of the Rhineland-Palatinate bomb disposal team were said to be on site.

Groundbreaking for the new TDI facility took place in November 2012. Left to right: Raimar Jahn, head of Polyurethanes; Margret Suckale, member of the BASF Board; and Dr. Bernhard Nick, head of the Verbund-site Ludwigshafen.

Plant Construction

BASF announced on Jan. 17, 2012, that it would build the single-train, 300,000 metric tons per year production plant for TDI and expand other plants.

The construction includes a new hydrogen chloride recycling plant, as well as expansion for the nitric acid, chlorine and synthesis gas plants. Expansion of the aromatics complex is also planned. 

Total investment for the site will cost around €1 billion and create around 200 additional jobs, BASF said.

Production at the plant is expected to start at the end of 2014, at which point BASF plans to close down its 80,000 metric tons per year TDI plant in Schwarzheide, Germany.

Chemicals Project Awarded

On Feb. 19, Fluor Corporation announced that it secured a contract for engineering, procurement and construction management services for BASF's TDI complex in Ludwigshafen.

The value of the contract was not disclosed.

Fluor, headquartered in Irving, TX, has been involved with the project since 2011 performing support services for pre-front-end and front-end engineering and design work.

The company's Haarlem, the Netherlands, operations center will lead the project with support from the Gliwice, Poland, center. Fluor said more than 800 of its employees are contributing to the construction.


Tagged categories: Accidents; BASF; Explosions; Polyurethane

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