Explosion At Burning Iran Refinery Renews Large Blaze
One of the two fuel tanks burning at Tehran's Tondgooyan Refinery since Wednesday afternoon exploded Thursday morning, local media reported hours after the authorities said the danger of explosions was over.
The state-run television's news channel showed a fire and towering plume of black smoke rising from the refinery into the sky in the southern outskirts of the capital very close to several other huge fuel tanks.
The report said firefighters had managed to almost extinguish the fire in LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) tanks that started yesterday afternoon, but an explosion Thursday morning reverted the situation back to what it had been about eight hours earlier. Another state TV report said the material stored in the cold slop tank had spread out around the tank after the explosion and caught fire.
Shortly before the explosion a refinery official, Shaker Khafaei, told the oil ministry news agency Shana that the fire had been contained and reduced to 5% of its initial size and the refinery could resume operations soon. Khafaei also told Shana Wednesday that the blaze had only affected two waste fuel tanks with a capacity of 20,000 barrels and the fire had not spread to other tanks or other parts of the refinery. Videos posted by Shana Wednesday evening showed two huge blazes at the refinery.
The video in this tweet shows the scene after an explosion Thursday morning
There are no reports of evacuations from residential areas in southern Tehran near the refinery. Officials have remained silent about possible health hazards as a thick, black column of smoke rose into the sky. No one has said what is exactly burning, except saying that tanks full of “waste material” were on fire. Local media carried the news but not as a serious issue for the nine million residents of the capital.
Tehran Oil Refining Company, a subsidiary of the state-run National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of sabotage at Tondgooyan Refinery which supplies about 15% of the fuel in the country.
Authorities say the refinery has suspended all its operations since the blaze broke out Wednesday after a leak at a liquid gas pipeline. No deaths or injuries have been reported. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, Shana reported Wednesday evening.
The refinery which has a daily refining capacity of 220,000 barrels of oil was built in the 1960s and produces gasoline, gas oil and mazut oil.
Firefighters of the refinery, Tehran Fire Department and others from nearby towns have been deployed and are fighting the fire at the massive refinery since it erupted late afternoon on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Iran’s largest naval vessel caught fire near the Persian Gulf and sank Wednesday morning. Thirty sailors were injured but all of the 400 people onboard were rescued.
Since last summer, there have been multiple suspicious incidents at Iran’s nuclear, military and industrial sites. While Israel is suspected of launching sabotage attacks on some of these sites, it has not taken responsibility for any incident.
Thousands of the residents of the capital formed very long queues at gas stations Wednesday evening and Thursday for the fear of gasoline and CNG shortage in the coming days. Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh who was present at the site Wednesday evening and an official of Tehran Police, Jalal Moghoufei, have assured citizens that there was no disruption in fuel production and that fuel distribution has not been affected by the incident.
Thursday afternoon local news agencies reported that fire had been completely extinguished. Authorities say eleven were injured in the incident.