Blaze hits Iran’s Mahshahr petchem zone

Iran’s southern industrial zone of Mahshahr in Khouzestan province is witnessing the second day of what could be the worst blaze in one of its major petrochemical plants. 

The blaze at Bou Ali Sina plant – which is located at the heart of a series of petrochemical projects in Mahshahr – had been briefly put out on Wednesday but re-ignited on Thursday.

It is still not clear what exactly caused the incident that started with an explosion in a key tower of the plant – the tallest in the Middle East.

There have also been conflicting reports on the number of casualties. Some reports initially said several people had been killed in the incident while others said there had been no casualties.

Firefighting teams from Khouzestan province as well as the neighboring provinces are fighting the blaze and have managed to prevent it from spreading to the nearby tanks of petrochemical products.

Officials also have told the media that the reserves of nearby tanks have been emptied as a precaution.

Some reports say the fire has been most likely caused by the paraxylene, a highly flammable hydrocarbon, leakage. However, the exact cause still requires a technical investigation.

Adel Salim-Nejad, the managing director of Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company that owns Bou Ali Sina plant, has been quoted by the media as saying that the blaze has been brought under control.

Salim-Nejad emphasized that the fire in paraxylene units of the plant has been extinguished. However, the blaze in a nearby reserve tank will continue for at least the next two days until all the crude oil which it holds burns out, he added.

Mahshahr Special Economic Zone – a key industrial zone on the southern shores of Khouzestan province where a chain of petrochemical plants are situated – has been evacuated over concerns that the blaze could spread.

“If this fire is not extinguished, it might also be spread to other areas,” Mahshahr governor Mansour Qamar said as quoted by IRNA news agency.

By Press TV