Dutch chemical facility goes up in flames; no toxic leaks found
Some 150 firefighters rushed to a chemical packaging plant near the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on Wednesday, after a blaze tore through the facility, setting off heavy explosions and releasing large smoke clouds.
No injuries were reported. Contrary to initial fears, there also has been no sign of toxic substances leaking out, the mayor of the affected town, Moerdijk, said, citing air quality measurements.
Some nearby residents nevertheless complained of breathing difficulties and a stench in the area. Authorities had previously called on them to close doors and windows and stay indoors.
Officials in Rotterdam - located some 45 kilometres north of the chemical facility - were preparing for the possibility that the smoke clouds could spread. Preventive measures were also being implemented in the even further removed The Hague and Amsterdam.
The Chemie-Pack company packages chemicals - including poisonous and corrosive substances - for transport and storage purposes. It was not immediately clear what started the blaze.
Emergency responders suspect that the fiery explosions were caused by storage tanks that were only partially filled with chemicals.
By the evening, police were calling the fire "controllable," although it had not yet fully been extinguished. Air force units and fire prevention personnel from a Shell refinery were involved in fighting the blaze, dpa reported.