Black smoke over the Chempark Leverkusen
Photo: ROBERTO PFEIL / AFP
The fire brigade and rescue workers are on a large scale, dark clouds of smoke rise over the Chempark Leverkusen: Videos and photos document the fatal explosion that occurred in North Rhine-Westphalia that morning.
The full extent of the accident cannot yet be foreseen.
At around 9.30 am there was an explosion in the Chempark in Leverkusen.
According to the operating company Currenta, it occurred in the tank farm of the disposal center in the Bürrig district.
Then there was a fire in the tank farm, which was extinguished around noon.
According to Chempark manager Lars Friedrich, three tanks with organic solvents were affected.
They are all "completely or partially destroyed".
A thick cloud of smoke formed that stretched far over the city.
At least one employee died, according to Currenta, four more are still missing.
According to the city of Leverkusen, at least 16 people were injured, four of them seriously.
At least one of the injured is in acute danger of death, said Friedrich.
The identity of the dead has not yet been clarified.
Several stations of the Geological Service North Rhine-Westphalia measured the explosion, said a seismologist.
Among other things, the shock was also registered at a station in the Hespertal, around 40 kilometers north of Leverkusen.
Why did the explosion occur?
The cause of the accident is still unknown.
Is there a health hazard for the population?
That cannot be said conclusively yet.
According to the operating company, it is not yet clear whether toxic substances were released in the fire.
The analysis is still ongoing, said Chempark manager Friedrich at a press conference.
According to the State Environment Agency (LANUV), it is not yet possible to assess whether »relevant substances« can be found in the precipitation after the fire, the city of Leverkusen announced.
Residents of the chemical plant were initially asked to go to closed rooms, to keep windows and doors closed and to switch off air conditioning and ventilation systems.
The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance classified the event in the "Extreme Danger" warning level.
In the meantime, the all-clear has been sent via the warning app NINA.
The cloud of smoke moved in the direction of Burscheid, Leichlingen and Wermelskirchen.
There too, doors and windows should be kept closed.
The fire brigade in Dortmund warns of unpleasant odors in parts of the Ruhr area city.
"Health impairments cannot be ruled out," wrote the fire brigade on Twitter a few hours after the explosion.
Windows and doors should also remain closed here.
What precautionary measures are being taken?
Chempark manager Friedrich called on the population not to touch any precipitation, but to inform the fire brigade.
Residents in the districts of Bürrig and Opladen should not eat vegetables or fruit from the garden for the time being and "also wear gloves as a precaution when working in the garden that cannot be postponed".
In addition, playgrounds in both parts of the city were closed.
What is the Chempark?
According to the company, the Chempark is one of the largest chemical parks in Europe.
Around 50,000 people work in an area totaling around eleven square kilometers.
Over 70 companies are located at the three locations in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen.
The companies include Covestro, Bayer, Lanxess and Arlanxeo.
Bayer and Lanxess had sold the operating company Currenta to Macquarie in 2019.
At the affected site complex, a total of around 50 to 60 employees are employed, said Chempark manager Friedrich.
What are the reactions?
His thoughts were with the dead man's family, said Uwe Richrath, Lord Mayor of Leverkusen at a press conference.
He wholeheartedly hopes that the four missing employees "came out that we can find them still alive."
The accident was "a tragic moment for Leverkusen".
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the death of an employee.
Our special condolences go out particularly to the relatives, but also to the colleagues who have worked with him, «said Chempark manager Friedrich.
bbr / him / dpa / Reuters