How not to put out a chemical fire

26 May 2011 - Moerdijk again

The authorities are still struggling with the aftermath of the big Moerdijk chemical fire that raged last January. An earlier blog stated two reasons now no longer relevant why water should not have been used to fight the fire. NOS News has interviewed fire-fighting specialists and Chemiepack employees and some interesting conclusions can be drawn Link.

According to the specialists water should never be used with chemical fires for several reasons. Water will just help spreading chemicals and burning chemicals in a certain location, see the clip below for a demonstration. When a fire is allowed to die by itself, it burns hotter and thus cleaner and any smoke will be allowed to rise vertically and to greater height also reducing the environmental impact. Water is only useful in safeguarding surrounding properties. Yet the firemen on duty that night in January kept throwing water directly at the fire for long 10 hours, an estimated total of 55 million liters, before finally resorting to foam. Water is not standard procedure in any fire-fighting handbook according to NOS News and also the Chemiepack employees advised against it. The irony is that this company is now facing a 70 million euro bill for the environmental cleanup.