A toxic gas leak occurred at BASF’s petrochemical complex in Ludwigshafen, Germany on Thursday. The leak was caused by an operational disruption, according to a post made by the company on social media. BASF managed to quickly halt the leak, but not before nitrogen oxides gases escaped into the atmosphere.
Health Risks and Visible Effects
Nitrogen oxides can be highly irritating to the respiratory system, even at low concentrations, and can cause severe toxicity in high concentrations, as stated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The incident resulted in the formation of a visible exhaust plume, which has now dissipated.
Resolution and Impact
Following the incident, BASF has confirmed that the affected unit has been re-started. A BASF spokesperson assured that there are no increased levels of nitrogen oxides gas detected and everything is running smoothly again. However, the company has not disclosed any specific details regarding the impacted facility or products affected due to company policy reasons.
BASF’s Ludwigshafen Site
In Germany, BASF operates two steam naphtha-fed crackers at its Ludwigshafen site. These crackers have an ethylene capacity of 420,000 metric tons/year and 240,000 mt/year respectively, as reported by Chemical Market Analytics by OPIS, a Dow Jones company. It is worth noting that one of these crackers recently underwent planned maintenance, which began in June.