Fire outbreak at a shoe wax packaging station in a household products factory engulfed the entire building plus an outdoor solvent storage zone. Neither the manufacturing building nor the raw materials storage space, both of which were protected by a fire wall, sustained damage. The wax was packaged in plastic tubes by means of a heating (or hotspot) process. Shortly before the outbreak, personnel working on this packaging line were sprayed with liquid emanating from the ceiling. Ignition of the wax packaging line generated thick smoke that prevented the factory’s internal emergency team from responding. Employees evacuated the premises.
The packaging building was destroyed, and the rather strong wind spread the fire to the outdoor solvent storage space. Some smaller-sized barrels and containers exploded, in ejecting their lids 20 m away. Following an injunction, the factory operator had implemented a number of extinction water recovery measures, yet the thick smoke and heat flux prevented the operator from handling the extinction water dam valve. As a result, this water spilled into the storm drain network and was channelled to a buffer basin upstream of the municipal storm basin, before flowing into the LOIR River. The dam valve at the storm basin outlet was closed and a floating boom was installed at the buffer tank outfall; moreover, 6 lined basins were dug into the ground to collect the extinction water being pumped into the buffer tank. Pollution of the LOIR could thus be avoided.
Pipelines of furniture wax (composed mainly of white spirit) feeding another packaging line in the same building may have caused this spraying. An inoperable wax supply on this line had also been observed.
The Inspection Authorities for Classified Facilities conducted an investigation to determine the origin of this accident. The operator was required to discharge all wastes and extinction water using appropriate disposal services, in addition to: performing a soil pollution assessment, indicating the accident causes, and adopting effective measures to reduce the probability of accident recurrence. The resumption of factory activities was made contingent upon Prefecture decision following Inspection Authority approval.