The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 2:10 pm

Explosion in northeastern Spain triggers chemical emergency

ARITZ PARRA and CIARAN GILES | Associated Press

MADRID – A massive explosion at a petrochemical plant in northeastern Spain burned four people Tuesday, and the regional emergency services agency warned people nearby not to go outside.

A tweet by emergency services for the Catalonia region called the blast in the port city of Tarragona a “chemical accident.”

The services said four people were reported as having been injured and were being treated for major burns.

The service advised residents in parts of the city of 800,000 and in nearby towns to close their windows and to refrain from going outside as preventive measures.

The blast took place at the premises of Iqoxe, according to a woman who answered the phone at the company and who quickly hung up the phone without giving her name.

According to the company's website, Iqoxe is Spain's sole producer of ethylene oxide, a chemical compound used for making detergents, solvents and other products, as well as glycol, one of the main raw materials in the production of plastics.

Local residents posted videos showing the aftermath of the blast, with flames and a big column of black smoke emerging from an area dotted with big industrial tanks.

Fire departments sent 10 brigades to the area, the regional service said.

Some local residents told Tarragona Radio that the blast could be heard from miles away.

Tarragona is located 115 kilometers (71 miles) southwest of Barcelona, the regional capital of Spain's Catalonia region.

Since 2015, the city has housed a 1,200-hectare (2,965-acre) “chemical hub,” ChemMed, that was described as the largest of its kind in southern Europe.

Tuesday's explosion comes just over a month after a Dec. 11 blaze at a solvent and industrial residues recycling plant in the northeastern town town of Montornes del Valles. After that blast, authorities had to cordon off an area of some 500 meters (550 yards) in radius around the plant.


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