The Urethane Blog

Ludwigshafen Investigation Continues

BASF pipeline cut before deadly blast-investigators


Oct 26 A pipeline of flammable material had been cut before a deadly blast at the headquarters of German chemicals group BASF last week, investigators said on Wednesday, adding they continued to look into the cause.

The blast nine days ago near a port that connects the river Rhine with BASF’s chemical complex killed two of the company’s firefighters and a worker on a tanker, and injured 30.

BASF shut down 24 production facilities in the wake of the accident but was able to gradually restart them within days.

A pipeline carrying flammable raffinate – used for the production of various chemicals such as solvents or plasticisers – appears to have been cut, local police and state prosecutors said in a joint statement.

“As part of our intensive investigations at the scene we discovered a cut in a pipeline. This was evidently carried out with a circular saw.”

While they said it was not known who made the cut, they added that maintenance workers were using an angle grinder on another pipeline nearby at the time.

“Accounting for the connections between the cut and the explosion will take further close investigation,” they added.

Leading state prosecutor Hubert Stroeber said a subcontracted worker who suffered severe injuries from the accident may have made the cut but he was not yet well enough to be questioned.

Investigators would now focus on the maintenance work that took place, according to the statement. BASF said it would continue to support the investigation. (Reporting by Patricia Weiss and Ludwig Burger; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)