KwaZulu-Natal Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay says investigations into the explosion at the Engen Oil Refinery in Wentworth south of Durban will also look at the safety of the surrounding community.

Co-operative Governance MEC Sipho Hlomuka is expected to visit the Wentworth community soon.

The blast at the refinery coincided with a fire that broke out in a nearby block of flats.

Resident describes Engen Oil Refinery explosion in Wentworth:

However, it has not been established whether the fire at the flat was caused by a burning ember from the refinery explosion that may have landed on that asbestos roof.

MEC Pillay says the investigation must take its course.

“Now, we need to see what caused it, firstly, and assess it with the background of previous incidents. There’s also been some indicators that no decision was taken as I understand it, by the owners, about the possibilities in that regard. I think that will be part of the overall assessment. It was a very alive and community sentimental matter (sic), but there’s also the economic side, the jobs and so on. So, we have to look at a very balanced approach, but with community safety and community interest being paramount.”

Activists say people can’t live so close to an oil refinery:

Assessment of petroleum products

The Mineral Resources Department says South Africa will urgently conduct an assessment of petroleum products supply after the country’s second-largest crude oil refinery shut down following the fire. The 120 000 barrel-per-day Engen Refinery in Durban has ceased operations as investigations start into the cause of the fire.

Engen says it is taking measures to ensure security of supply.

Engen Oil Refinery launches investigation following Wentworth plant explosion:

The refinery shutdown comes at a crucial time as South Africa looks to kickstart an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, the country’s third-biggest crude refinery, Astron Energy’s 100 000 barrel-per-day plant, was hit by an explosion that killed two people. That plant remains out of commission.

– Additonal reporting by Reuters.