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Diesel tank catches fire on Butcher Island
October 07, 2017
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MUMBAI: A fire that broke out on a tank farm on Butcher Island, a loading hub for petroleum products off the city’s east coast, raged for several hours on Friday before it was brought under control, officials said. They said the blaze was confined to a tank containing high speed diesel, belonging to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL).

Authorities suspect a lightning strike, as the fire started around 5 p.m. when the city and surrounding areas witnessed thundershowers. No causalties have been reported. Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) spokesperson Rajendra Paibir said, “The diesel was burning continuously, making it difficult to bring the fire under control. We asked BPCL to drain the diesel back to the refinery.”

He said officials in Mumbai monitoring the situation were handicapped by mobile network problems on Butcher Island. Mr. Paibir said at present, all communication with the island, also known as Jawahar Dweep, is over radio.

“All employees have been evacuated and the MbPT team of fire fighting experts is dealing with the situation. No casualties have been reported in the incident.”

Coast Guard on standby

Butcher Island houses MbPT’s marine oil terminal. Oil tankers discharge crude at the terminal, which is transported to refineries at Mahul through submerged pipelines, port officials said. The MbPT’s fire brigade said apart from the in-house fire fighting personnel on the island, additional help is being taken from the Victoria Dock fire station. Sanjay Bhatia, chairman, MbPT, said vessels in the island’s vicinity have been moved as a precautionary measure.

According to the MbPT website, four vessels were to call at Butcher Island on Friday, and the last one was supposed to have anchored at 4.12 p.m. The website said BPCL has eight tanks on the island with an installed capacity of 1.79 lakh kilolitres.

Officers at the Indian Navy base near the island said they were monitoring the situation, though there are no naval assets on the island. The Indian Coast Guard said its officers are in contact with MbPT and can send fire fighting equipment if needed. A team of experts from the BMC fire brigade was also assisting in fire fighting operations.

Manohar Rao, executive director and head of safety, BPCL, said prima facie the cause of the fire was lightning, and a detailed probe will be carried out on Saturday. He said two months ago at Visakhapatnam, some tanks belonging to Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. had caught fire due to a lightning strike. Mr. Rao said the tank which had caught fire on Friday was ‘dormant’, and had contained some residual fuel.

The MbPT will be conducting an investigation into the incident. — With PTI inputs.

The Hindu

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