BASF Puts out Own Chemical Fire

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 @ 02:12 PM gHale

BASF workers put out a fire that broke out last Wednesday night inside a building at the company’s chemical facility in Forward Township, PA.

Several local fire departments got the call just after 8:40 p.m. but BASF Corp.’s on-site emergency response team handled the blaze.

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There were no injuries and no chemical release as a result of the fire, officials said.

The fire posed no risk to the community at any point, said Steve Bicehouse, director of Butler County emergency services.

“Nothing was deemed a health hazard,” he said.

Dennis Kimmel, BASF’s emergency response coordinator declined to comment on the incident. He referred questions to Debra Mastrostefano, an engineering manager and member of the crisis management team at the company. Mastrostefano did not immediately return a telephone call.

A 911 caller reported the fire and described seeing flames from one of the buildings in the middle (of the facility), according to a dispatcher.

Volunteer fire crews remained in the parking lot while the BASF response team battle the blaze internally, authorities said.

“There was definitely something on fire,” said Neal Nanna, chief of the Harmony Fire District. “Flames were visible on the roof line.”

The fire, he said, was coming from a large metal pole building, one of several that sits on the vast BASF complex.

The volunteer fire crews got the word to clear out at 10:10 p.m.

Bicehouse, who admitted he did not know what kind of chemicals were in storage at the facility, said Kimmel would get back to him with more information, including what started the fire.

According to the company’s website, there are four plants at the facility. Among the chemicals are boron compounds used in the manufacturing process of pharmaceuticals for various therapies such as hypertension, high cholesterol and depression.

Other chemicals include potassium metal and sodium-potassium alloy, ultimately used in other industries such as detergents and agrochemicals; and potassium superoxide used mainly as an oxygen source in personal safety equipment such as self-contained breathing apparatuses.