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Leaking hydrogen catches fire at world’s largest chemical complex in Germany



A hydrogen leak at BASF’s giant chemicals plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, caused a “brief ignition” at about 10.40pm last night [Tuesday] that was swiftly extinguished by the on-site fire department, according to a statement from the company.

A “turbo extinguisher” mounted on a fire engine was used to douse the flames.

“The plant was shut down and the excess gases were burned using the [relevant] flare,” BASF said.

There were no injuries and the cause of the incident “is still being determined”.

The plant in Ludwigshafen covers approximately 10sq km and is described by BASF as the world’s largest integrated chemical complex.

Hydrogen is an indirect greenhouse gas that is extremely flammable and can explode when heated or under pressure, but no explosions took place last night.

The company statement added: “BASF’s environmental measurement vehicles were on the move inside and outside the factory premises. Slightly elevated readings were found in the vicinity of the deployment site.”

An explosion at the plant in October 2016 — caused by a cut in a pipeline transporting a butylene mixture — killed four people, including three members of BASF’s in-house fire brigade.


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