31/10/2007

Huge Blaze Follows Essex Oil Refinery Blast

Emergency services are tackling a huge blaze at an oil refinery in Essex, following an explosion at the site.

The fire is believed to be on the ground floor of a tower, but flames are reported to be leaping 100ft up a column.

Essex Fire Service was called to the Petroplus Coryton refinery, near Stanford le Hope, at around 11.30am.

It is understood that all staff have been accounted for and there are no reports of any casualties.

Ray Howard is a member of Castle Point Borough Council which covers Canvey Island, Benfleet, Thundersley and Hadleigh, and lives nearby.

"Some almighty explosion occurred, it shook my house," he said.

"The next thing, all I saw was huge flames and smoke coming from the refinery."

The borough's emergency planning officer has been called to the scene and Essex Police said Petroplus had instigated its own emergency plans for such an incident.

Police said a non-toxic smoke plume was drifting towards Canvey Island.

Homes and premises in the vicinity of the site are not going to be evacuated at this stage, police said.

The refinery opened in 1953 and was purchased by Swiss company Petroplus in May 2007.

(KMcA)


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