Engen Oil Refinery says they will launch an investigation following Friday morning’s explosion at their Wentworth plant, south of Durban. Emergency services say seven people sustained mild injuries and have been hospitalised.

The blast that occurred just after 7am could be felt in areas in and around Durban.

Seven people treated following explosion at the Wentworth Engen Oil Refinery:

The eThekwini Fire Department says the explosion happened due to pressure exerted on diesel pipes.

Engen’s Public Affairs Manager, Thandeka Cele, says she has already spoken to the community in order to understand the impact.

“An investigation will be happening in terms of what actually transpired that caused the fire at the refinery. At the moment as I have already spoken to the community to understand what the impact has been from there; the other outside community that lives within or in the surrounding area around the refinery.”

Cele denies claims that maintenance at the refinery has been neglected.

“A refinery like any other in entity, there will be incidents that have happened from a process safety point of view. However, we do everything in terms of maintenance of our unit, but this is a really unfortunate incident and we will keep on informing and updating the community in terms of what is happening within the refinery.”

Resident describes oil refinery explosion in Wentworth:

‘Saw it coming’

Earlier, non-profit environmental justice service organisation, groundWork, and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, said they had previously called for the Wentworth Engen Oil Refinery to shut down.

According to groundWork, the explosion did not come as a surprise.

Environmentalists have for years been calling for an evacuation management plan from the city in the event of such an occurrence.

Community members lament living close to oil refinery:

Earlier, community activists from Wentworth said their pleas for an evacuation plan in the event of a disaster due to heavy industry in the area, has fallen on deaf ears.

In 2005, a fire broke out in a solvents tank at the same refinery.

Activists said the community has been at serious risk for years now.

“These are all fence line community, not even 50m away from the refinery, this is not the first incident. Each time when there is a fire we demand evacuation plans from the city, from the province and from national government,” one activist said.