Fire breaks out at Taiwan refinery

Refinery fire

HMN-A fire in a hydrodesulfurization unit erupted after a line ruptured upon startup after maintenance.  The NY Times reports that the fire took hours to extinguish.

HONG KONG — An explosion at an oil refinery in northern Taiwan set off a fire that took hours to extinguish on Monday, the National Fire Agency said.

Video showed an intense blaze at the refinery in Taoyuan, but there were no reports of deaths or injuries, the agency said. The fire was reported at 6:42 a.m. and was brought under control less than an hour later, but it was not fully extinguished until the midafternoon, it said.

CPC Corporation, the owner of the refinery, said that the fire had erupted when a hydrodesulfurization unit that had been undergoing maintenance for a month was restarted. A rupture in a pipe after the restart is suspected of causing the explosion and fire, the company said in a written statement.

CPC said that any shortfall in the production of diesel fuel at the refinery would be made up elsewhere in Taiwan, and that overall supply should not be affected.

Taoyuan’s city government announced on Monday that its environmental department had fined CPC Corporation the maximum allowed by law, $34,000, for the air pollution the fire caused.

The mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan, called on the company to fulfill a promise, made in 2003, to relocate the refinery to a less densely populated area. Taoyuan is west of Taipei, the capital, and home to Taiwan’s main airport in Taiwan.

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