UPDATED April 21, 4 p.m.: An explosion at a vinyl chloride monomer/ethylene plant in Mexico on April 20 killed 13 people, and may impact the country's chloralkali industry.
The blast at the Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo SA de CV plant in the Pajaritos petrochemicals complex in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state, also seriously injured 88 people, 13 of whom are in a critical condition, state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos and petrochemicals giant Mexichem SAB de CV said in a joint news release April 21.
PMV is a joint venture between Pemex and Mexichem. It was formerly known as Mexichem Derivados SA de CV Planta Coatzacoalcos and has an ISO 9001 quality management standards certificate, issued in 2008.
A consultant, who asked not to be named, told Plastics News that the explosion may affect the wider chloralkali industry because Pajaritos is the main outlet for chlorine in Mexico.
The explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. local time in the Clorados III area inside Pemex's Pajaritos complex. Clorados is translated as chlorinated products in English.
“Tragically we can confirm that 13 people have been killed and 88 others remain injured and are receiving treatment at various hospitals,” Pemex and Mexichem said in a joint news release posted April 21. The two companies jointly own and operate the plant.
Earlier, Luis Felipe Puente, the head of Mexico's emergency services, had posted the same death toll on his Twitter stream.
The explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. local time in the Clorados III area inside Pemex's Pajaritos complex, Mexichem said in a separate news release. Clorados is translated as chlorinated products in English.
“All emergency protocols have been activated, including evacuation,” Mexichem added in the English-language news release.
Mexichem is one of the world's largest manufacturers of PVC pipe. It has operations in 30 countries and employs 19,200 at 100 different sites.
Mexichem and Pemex said late on April 20 the situation at the plant was “under control” and that there was “no risk” to people living in the Coatzacoalcos area where the Pajaritos complex is located.
They said 136 people had been hospitalized and 48 of those had been discharged. Two thousand local people had been evacuated from the area but were being allowed to return to their homes.
“Once the facility has cooled down, expert teams will enter (the site) to verify security conditions as well as to assess the damage,” the company said. “At the same time investigations will begin to determine the causes of the accident.”
The news conference was attended, among others, by Mexichem CEO Antonio Carrillo, Pemex CEO José Antonio González Anaya and Puente.
During the conference Puente said elements of the Mexican army, navy and federal police had joined state and municipal police forces in cordoning off and securing the area.