Shell explosion damage "significant"

Shell fire
An explosion at the Shell Moerdijk facility in June 2014 (Photo: OttoWise / Twitter). An explosion at the Shell Moerdijk facility in June 2014 (Photo: OttoWise / Twitter)

The damage left after the explosion of a reactor and subsequent fire at the Shell site in Moerdijk are "significant", according to Shell Moerdijk director Paul Buijsingh. There may be millions of euros in damage. Buijsingh is expecting that the recovery will take a long time.

Security footage of flames shooting up meters high, and the damage is clear days after the event. Minister Ivo Opstelten of Security and Justice visited the site, and said that he was of the impression that a lesson was learned after a previous chemical processing plant in Moerdijk, Chemie-Pack on the same industrial site, also caught fire.

"The Fire Department was in place quickly. Residents were quickly informed. The reaction was abnormally adequate", the politician said.

Mayor of Moerdijk, Jac Klijs, said at a press conference that there was no need to sound the air-raid warning. "We knew quickly what was in the air, that was dangerous substances. The smoke rose straight up. With an air-raid warning you have to be careful for the effects you bring into movement and watch out that you don't cause more panic", Klijs said. The Investigative Council for Security is investigating whether it was the right decision not to sound the alarm.

A meeting was held in Moerdijk on Thursday evening, where around 150 local residents attended. The union of home-owners KernWaarde Moerdijk spoke about a proposal from the municipality. This proposal is offering 95 percent of the assessed value for the homes of people who want to leave the town. For some people, the explosion heard at the Shell site was the last straw, they want out.

Buijsingh is not able to say what exactly caused the explosion in the reactor, which was out of use due to maintenance. The Shell site processes more than four million tons of chemical products every year. Shell says it regrets the incident, and is hoped to clear up the cause.

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