BASF plant fire kills two, stops production

BASF's Ludwigshafen plant

BASF’s flagship chemical works in Ludwigshafen, Germany has been hit by an explosion and subsequent fire that has left two firemen confirmed dead and could impact ethylene and propylene supplies worldwide.

The company confirmed the fatalities following the incident, which occurred at 9:30am local time on October 17th, leading to the deaths of two BASF employees from its in-house fire-fighting service. One other person is also confirmed as still missing.

The other confirmed victims include eight people who are reported as having serious injuries, while a further 17 were reported to have received ‘light injuries’.

Pipeline work caused explosion

The fire is said to have occurred as the result of work being carried out on a pipeline that was being used for ethylene and propylene products, which led to the explosion and subsequent fire.

BASF is currently the world’s largest chemicals player and is also one of the largest suppliers of cosmetic and personal care ingredients, alongside other multinational players such as Croda and Dow Chemical.

Both propylene and ethylene by products are used in a variety of cosmetic and personal care applications, with ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol and propylene glycol all being commonly used by the industry for a wide range of products supplied by BASF Care Chemicals.

BASF is currently the world’s largest chemicals player and is also one of the largest suppliers of cosmetic and personal care ingredients, alongside other multinational players such as Croda and Dow Chemical.

“We are deeply saddened that two employees have died. As fire fighters they were devoted to saving lives. Our deepest sympathy lies with the affected people and their families,” said Margret Suckale, Member of the Board and Industrial Relations Director at BASF.

How long will the shutdown last?

BASF’s latest update on the incident, late yesterday, stated that both the BASF and Ludwigshafen fire-fighting services were still on the scene to perform cooling and safety measures.

The incident is likely to lead to a prolonged shutdown of production at the facilities, which are the largest of their kind in Europe, with more than 20 of the facilities at the chemical works remaining inoperable until the safety go ahead is given.

However, experts have warned that a prolonged shut down could impact supplies of ethylene and propylene-related products worldwide.

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