An explosion before dawn on July 11 at an oil refinery, Huizhou, near Daya Bay, Guangdong, sparked raging fires with flames that reached 300 ft. The fire was extinguished by 40 fire trucks but thick smog lingered. Local media reported there are no casualties.
Leakage from refining equipment triggered the explosion, which startled nearby residents to panic and flee from the area. A massive traffic jam near the oil depot, which belongs to China National Offshore Oil, ensued.
The site is 25 miles from a nuclear power station.
Mr. Liu witnessed the conflagration: “The building is huge and filled with oil. Everybody worried about possible explosions. All residents near the refinery managed to flee from danger. The fire is very strong and hundreds of us fled towards Huizhou and Danshui cities. Many of the elderly and youngsters rode motorcycles. I left here at 4:30 a.m. and returned home before 9 a.m. ”
Another woman living nearby said, “At about 4:10 a.m., an intense fire began which was visible several miles away. We are very nervous and worried about further explosions, so people with cars drove away while others rushed to bus stations. The police blocked roads and the traffic became too heavy to drive. ”
Another resident whose family members all fled to Danshui city said, “At about 4 or 5 a.m., the fire seemed out of control and my whole family left home. We packed in a hurry and then drove away or rushed to take a bus. Later we came back when we heard that everything was fine.”
Though no deaths resulted, this is the second recent disaster for China National Offshore Oil. This past June, a drilling leak in the Bohai Sea east of Tianjin covered 61 sq. miles with crude oil and tainted the surrounding 324 sq. miles. The leak was detected on July 4 but not announced to the public until July 1.
China National Offshore Oil, trying to deflect the anger which arose from its alleged failure to warn the public, said that the authorities had been informed immediately. An American partner, ConocoPhillips, completed the cleanup and was determined to be legally responsible. The amount of damages each company will have to pay has been rising and has not yet been determined since this is the first undersea spill in Chinese waters.