Massive inferno erupts at CPC refinery in Taoyuan

Huge fire breaks out at CPC oil refinery in northern Taiwan's Taoyuan

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Fire at refinery in Taoyuan. (Image by Taiwan Observer)

Fire at refinery in Taoyuan. (Image by Taiwan Observer)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A massive fire erupted at a refinery operated by the state-run oil refiner CPC Corp. (中油) in Taoyuan City early this morning at 6:42 a.m. this morning (Jan. 29), reported CNA.

The Taoyuan City Fire Department said that firefighters received a call at 6:42 a.m. about a fire at the refinery in Guishan District. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found that heating furnace tube had ruptured and burst into flames, with the area affected by the blaze covering about 50 square meters.

Over 40 fire engines and ambulances were dispatched to the scene and they immediately started rescue and fire suppression efforts, with the blaze brought being under control by 7:30 p.m. Fortunately, there were no personnel trapped inside or injuries reported and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Residents living near the refinery were awakened this morning to the sound of a massive blast which caused their windows to rattle and flung their doors open. Many could see a plume of smoke and towering flames shooting out of from the plant, causing hundreds of residents to flood the emergency hotline with calls reporting the fire.


(Taiwan Observer image)

One netizen wrote: "I was suddenly awakened by a gust of wind this morning. It was like the sound of a massive gun firing off for a long time. When I looked out the window, I was shocked to see that the oil refinery had exploded and I quickly awakened the rest of the family to prepare to escape until the fire was brought under control."

A resident surnamed Li told CNA that he is terrified every time there is an explosion or other accident at the refinery.

Another netizen wrote: "There was a terrible banging noise that went off right in front of me and I could see that there was an explosion at the Taoyuan refinery off in the distance. There was a bad stench in the morning, and now it's thicker. I can't tell if this horrible smell has to do with the fire?"


Aerial view of the fire. (CNA image)

CPC spokeswoman Bi Su-chien (畢淑蒨) told CNA that the diesel hydrotreating unit was undergoing annual maintenance yesterday and had just been reactivated. An employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told CNA that he suspected that when preparations were under way to restart the unit, excess pressure built up in the boiler, possibly causing the explosion.

However, the real reason is yet to be confirmed and more investigations will be needed to pinpoint the cause.

Due to the toxic smoke released into the air from the fire, the Taoyuan Environmental Protection Agency will fine CPC NT$1 million (US$34,000) for violating the Air Pollution Control Act.


(Taiwan Observer image)


(Taiwan Observer image)

Video of refinery fire provided by Taiwan Observer.


(Taiwan Observer image)


(Taiwan Observer image)


(CNA image)


(CNA image


(CNA image)

Video of refinery fire provided by Taiwan Observer.