150 firefighters in five-hour battle with Jurong Island blaze

ASYRAF KAMIL Today Online 21 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — For about five hours on Wednesday (April 20), a fire at an oil tank blazed on Jurong Island, with an intensity that led the tank to “fold and buckle”, and more than 150 Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers had to be deployed to the scene of the fire.

There were no casualties but one emergency responder from Jurong Aromatics Corporation (JAC) was treated for heat exhaustion.

The fire broke out at the oil tank in JAC’s large petrochemical complex at Tembusu Road, at about 3pm. TODAY understands that about 35 workers had to be evacuated from the complex.

The cause of the fire remains unclear. However, the SCDF said on its Facebook page that the blaze involved light crude oil, was “not toxic in nature”, and that the affected oil tank was contained within a 100m-by-150m bund wall.

Apart from the 150-plus personnel, the SCDF also deployed about 40 firefighting and rescue vehicles, including a 6,000-gallons-per-minute foam monitor, to control the blaze.

Several ground water monitors and fixed drencher systems were also used to cool down two nearby oil tanks.

In a Facebook post, after the fire had been put out at 7.45pm, the SCDF said that the “operation was a race against time in view of the tank that has buckled and on the need to prevent the intense fire from spreading to its immediate surroundings”.

The National Environmental Agency (NEA), which was notified of the blaze at 3.30pm, noted that the ambient air quality readings taken during the fire were within the normal range.

“The NEA will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates when necessary,” a spokesperson said in response to TODAY’s queries.

Jurong Island, located off the south-west coast of Singapore, is home to many companies in the petrochemical industry, such as BASF, ExxonMobil, Shell and Sumitomo Chemicals.

Some workers on Jurong Island said they were able to feel the heat from the blaze even though they were several kilometres away.

The fire and thick plumes of smoke from the JAC complex could also be seen from some western areas, such as Jurong and Tuas.

JAC has yet to comment on the fire, and attempts to reach its spokesman were unsuccessful.

According to Platts, which provides information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy market, JAC filed for receivership in September last year after debt-restructuring talks broke down.

The company has been offline since December 2014, just three months after it started commercial operations amid volatility in crude oil prices.

The last major blaze on Jurong Island took place on May 3, 2007, when an ExxonMobil oil refinery caught fire. Three workers died in the fire, while one was injured.

In 2011, a chemical fire ravaged the Royal Dutch Shell’s refinery on Pulau Bukom, and the SCDF needed 34 hours to extinguish the blaze.

Oil tank catches fire on Jurong Island
The fire at Tembusu Road involves a crude oil tank measuring about 40m in diameter. One person was sent to hospital for heat exhaustion.
Channel NewsAsia 20 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: An oil tank caught fire on Wednesday afternoon (Apr 20) on Jurong Island, sparking a massive fire-fighting operation involving 150 Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers.

SCDF said it was alerted to the incident at 23 Tembusu Road at 3pm. It was put out at 7.45pm, after nearly five hours of fire-fighting. Channel NewsAsia understands the tank belongs to the company Jurong Aromatics Corp.

Upon SCDF officers' arrival, the in-house company emergency response team (CERT) was already fighting the fire with ground water monitors. One of the CERT members was sent to the hospital due to heat exhaustion.

The storage tank, containing light crude oil, measured about 40 metres in diameter and 20 metres in height. The blaze was also visible from the sea. SCDF said the fumes were not toxic.

According to a witness who works on Jurong Island, the fire happened at around 2.45pm. “It was raining heavily and there was a thunderstorm. We felt the building shake,” he said.

The witness, who declined to be named, added: “We thought it was just lightning but we saw black smoke and flames coming out from a few hundred metres down the road. One of the oil tanks was on fire.”

He said the oil tank was engulfed in flames and half of it had "melted". “Our project manager told us can leave the site if we don’t feel safe. About an hour later, official word was given to our office to evacuate Jurong Island."

At about 5.30pm, the flames and smoke seemed to have died down when viewed from Jurong West, a Channel NewsAsia cameraman reported.

In an update on Facebook at about 6.30pm, SCDF said the tank on fire was contained within a bund wall measuring 100m by 150m, and it said the intensity of the fire had caused the tank to fold and buckle.

SCDF added that fire-fighting operation was expected to be a "prolonged operation". It has deployed a large foam monitor to mitigate the fire, as well as several ground water monitors and fixed drencher systems to cool down two nearby oil tanks.

Photos and videos sent to Channel NewsAsia showed flames shooting up and plumes of smoke filling the air.

SCDF firefighters recount tackling Jurong Island oil tank fire
Nabilah Awang, The New Paper AsiaOne 23 Apr 16;

In her six years as a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer, she had never encountered a blaze quite like this one.

The sight of the huge oil tank fire set Captain Clara Toh, 30, the station commander of Banyan Fire Station on Jurong Island, thinking of the need to contain it first, rather than put it out.

"The tank was engulfed in flames and there was a huge fireball above it.

"Then I saw the top of the tank start to cave in. That was when I knew the first thing to do was to contain the fire," she told The New Paper.

By then, the in-house company emergency response team (Cert) was already using ground water monitors to fight the fire that broke out on Wednesday in the Jurong Aromatics Corporation (JAC) petrochemical complex on Jurong Island.

Capt Toh led a team of 16 officers to the fire at 3pm, and there were 150 officers on site within an hour.

SCDF also deployed 38 fire-fighting and rescue vehicles from seven fire stations in the 1st Division HQ.

A section commander from Banyan Fire Station, Sergeant Rahmat Mohamat Haron, 23, told TNP that the station was just a five-minute drive away.

"As soon as the fire engine I was in got out of the station, I could already see the massive blaze coming from the tank.

"There were no explosions, just thick, black smoke," said the full-time national serviceman.

Another section commander from the same station, Staff Sergeant Fazeli Rahmat, 33, added: "When we reached the scene, it was so hot. It felt like we were being cooked."

Capt Toh said the temperature near the tank was about 700 deg C.

The tank could contain up to 2.5 million litres of light crude oil.

An SCDF spokesman said it was about 10 per cent full.

For safety reasons, the tank was surrounded by a 2m-high rectangular bund wall, 100m by 150m.

SCDF brought out its big guns to take on the fire.

A monitor that can shoot out 27,000 litres of foam per minute was set up to fight the fire. It is so powerful that it can fill an Olympic-size swimming pool in about one and a half hours.

Several ground water monitors and fixed drencher systems were used to cool down two oil tanks nearby, as well as a pipeline corridor away from the burning tank.

Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Chow, 39, commander of the SCDF's 1st Division HQ, explained that it was important to contain the fire within the tank and prevent it from spreading to its immediate surrounding.


"The three elements that keep a fire burning are fuel, heat and oxygen.

"So we used the foam to blanket the fire so as to suffocate it and cut off the oxygen supply," said Lt-Col Chow.

He added: "When it comes to oil tank fires, it's better to use foam than water. It's like boiling oil - when you add water, it will actually cause the oil to boil over."

Station commander of Jurong Island Fire Station, Major Benny Ong, 35, who was in charge of overseeing the operation of the large monitor, said: "Because the large monitor uses very high water pressure, we have to co-ordinate with the rest on the ground.

"Sometimes, we have to make the call to close some ground monitors so that the water pressure in the large monitor is not compromised."

Sgt Rahmat and Staff Sgt Fazeli operated the monitor, along with Lance Corporal Sundar Raj Hemath Kumar, 20, a firefighter who joined Banyan Fire Station in January after passing his fire-fighting course.

Lance Cpl Sundar Raj said: "It was the first time I was sent out to such a major incident after I completed my training. I was a little nervous but confident because our training is all based on real-life situations. I was glad it all paid off."

According to Platts, which issues daily price assessments for the energy and metals commodity markets, JAC filed for receivership in September last year after debt-restructuring talks broke down.

The company has been offline since 2014.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said SCDF.

Lt-Col Chow also thanked the Singapore Police Force, the Jurong Town Corporation and Aetos for helping in the operation.

- Additional reporting by Nurul Asyikin Yusoff

No comments:

Post a Comment