Fire broke out around 7:20 am in a hot mix workshop (200 m²) dedicated to manufacturing varnishes. The fire was brought under control shortly after 8 am but still destroyed the workshop. The IOP was activated. A safety perimeter was set up and nearby houses were evacuated. The main road was closed to traffic. According to the site operator, two plant technicians were present in the workshop at the time of the accident. The mixing tank where they had been assigned was being flushed with technical methylal when an explosion occurred, followed by a fire. One of the two technicians sustained slight facial burns. The fire extinction water was collected, pumped and removed by a specialised company. At the site, fire-fighters cooled two tanks filled with semi-finished product. The room was isolated electrically and a consulting firm conducted a verification, given that the workshop had been entirely ATEX classified (as an explosive atmosphere). The product supply lines were isolated using valves, then sealed. Controls were carried out using a thermal camera, since the risk remained of the fire rekindling (solvent with flash point at 21°C). Surveillance by a security company was planned for that same night. The fire department conducted an inspection about once every 3 hours. The next morning at 8:45 am, with the fire extinguished, the emergency system was lifted and tanks were stripped by a specialised company. Workshop production represented 10% to 15% of total plant activity.
The operator was considering a modification to its process (removal of solvent bases, development of cold mix and hot mix for non-flammable products) and did not seek to restart production in the present form. The Classified Facilities Inspectorate did not authorise a re-start of activities located in the other buildings until the receipt of workshop safety guarantees (verification of the electrical installation and structural elements, sealing of all “product” inlets and outlets, and elimination of all products still present in the workshop). The cause of the explosion remained unexplained. An expert report was scheduled by the insurance company, and a forensic examination was also commissioned by the police. The company transmitted to the DRIRE Agency on 12th January documentary evidence proving the workshop was a safe environment (separation of solvent inlet pipes, payment for 10 t of product to be eliminated, the expert’s preliminary report concluding with the electrical separation of the destroyed workshop and building V2, and the possibility of restoring power to the rest of the site, as well as structural safety of adjoining building V3). The accident report was to include a specific study on electrostatic hazards. In 2003, a fire destroyed over 75% of the site; this incident was due to an electrical fault on a weighing scale (ARIA 23991).