An explosion occurred at Durban’s Engen Refinery on Friday morning. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo /African News Agency (ANA)
An explosion occurred at Durban’s Engen Refinery on Friday morning. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo /African News Agency (ANA)

Investigation underway into cause of blast at Durban’s Engen Refinery

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Dec 4, 2020

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Durban - A team of investigators has been dispatched to the Engen Refinery in Wentworth to establish the cause of an explosion at the Tara Road plant on Friday morning.

Seven people were treated for smoke inhalation.

In a statement, Engen said an emergency response team and eThekwini emergency services were immediately mobilised to contain the incident.

“The fire was extinguished at 8:45am and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation. All relevant authorities have been informed and full cooperation has been provided,” the company said.

A nearby flat also caught alight after embers from the blaze settled on the roof. A family was evacuated and taken to hospital after they inhaled smoke.

Residents outside the flat that was damaged during an explosion. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng /African News Agency (ANA)

Bobby Peek of groundWork, an environmental justice organisation, said the organisation and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) have previously called for the refinery to shut down.

Coincidentally, the explosion happened while the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (Pasa) was in Durban to visit the Merebank community to discuss various issues, he said.

“Pasa plans to be at the Merebank community hall at 10am for a follow-up meeting in relation to fossil fuels exploration. One of the key concerns communities face is the lack of transparency. The public needs access to documents that impact on people’s health and safety, including emergency, disaster and contingency plans,” Peak said.

“And who will be liable for incidents, accidents and explosions that impact on people and the environment?” he asked.

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