BASF has confirmed that an explosive device, most likely a World War II-era bomb, caused the blast that left one person injured Tuesday at a plant construction site in Germany.
The explosion was reported at BASF's Ludwigshafen toluene diisocyanate (TDI) plant, which recently broke ground for a 300,000 metric tons per year TDI production plant and other construction to expand its facilities.
BASF is expanding their its Ludwigshafen location by expanding several plants and building a TDI plant, which was the site of an explosion on Tuesday (Feb. 26). One person was injured in the blast, which BASF believes was caused when excavation work detonated a bomb.
Early reports had speculated that excavation work had detonated a bomb from World War II. While the age of the bomb has not been confirmed, BASF has said that an explosive device was detonated.
BASF Provides Some Details
Responding to a request from PaintSquare News for more information on Wednesday (Feb. 27), BASF's manager of media relations and corporate communications Europe, Ursula von Stetten, wrote in an email, "So here [are] the facts: The detonation took place at 10:00 a.m. One person was injured; the injury is not serious. He will be kept in the hospital for some days.
"Cause of the detonation was an explosive device, presumably a bomb deriving from the Second World War. The device detonated when grounding work was done. No details on [a] delay [are] available. At the moment, the exact circumstances of the incident are [being] evaluated."
Along with the response, von Stetten sent a press release in German. The release says that the explosive was unintentionally set off by construction workers, and the exact cause of the blast was yet to be determined.
The press release also said that authorities had been notified, the fire department had secure the work site, and the Rheinland-Pfalz emergency service was on location.
Chairman Discusses Incident
The company's 2012 annual results press conference, which had already been scheduled for Feb. 26 at 10:30 a.m., took place in Ludwigshafen, where BASF SE Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors Kurt Bock briefly discussed the accident.
Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board for BASF SE, briefly discussed the accident during an already scheduled press conference in Ludwigshafen.
The press conference was webcast live, and just under an hour in, Bock stopped to address the media about the situation at the 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."
Bock noted that the company had "found material from World War II" in the past but added: "We cannot 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."
Also that day, another media outlet reported that members of the Rhineland-Palatinate bomb disposal team were on site.
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 operations center in Haarlem, the Netherlands, will lead the project with support from the Gliwice, Poland, center. Fluor said more than 800 of its employees were contributing to the construction.