By John Vibes
A carcinogenic soot was created by a mysterious explosion at a Shell oil refinery in western Germany
GERMANY (INTELLIHUB) — The Shell oil corporation has spent all week downplaying the environmental impact of a recent explosion at one of their refineries in Germany. The cause of the blast is unknown and Shell has refused to give any kind of detailed explanation on what happened at the plant. Toxic fumes and soot have been reported emanating from the refinery, but Shell has insisted that this is no danger to local residents.
To say that the fumes posed no threat to residents was an “outrageous playing down” of the dangers, Paul Kröfges of environmentalist group Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) said in a statement.
Paul said that the explosion had created “masses of carcinogenic soot” along with other carcinogenic gasses, “which are being distributed together with the soot in the air over southern Cologne.”
All that is known about the explosion is that a tank containing toluene, a solvent, caught fire at the Rheinland refinery in the Godorf district of the city of Cologne at around 3pm local time on Thursday, according to a Shell statement.
“We will be investigating the cause and bringing in outside experts,” refinery manager Wulf Spitzley told the paper. City authorities said in a statement that the fire had been brought under control within 90 minutes. “As far as we know no one was injured by the explosion,” they added.
Some local residents complained that they had not been told early enough about the potential risk.
“We only heard from the press hours later that we were supposed to close windows and doors,” Giuseppe Falsone, who lives just 150 metres from the refinery, told the Welt newspaper. “If poisonous smoke is rising, it’s not too much to get staff to go and inform the residents.”
“Initial information was only available from announcements on the radio,” criticized Kröfges. “These were limited to the usual warnings to close windows and doors. This breakdown is clearly inherent to the system, as soon as an emergency occurs, direct communication collapses into chaos.”