Investigation under way of Karachi refinery fire that took three lives

An investigation is continuing into a fire at the National Refinery Ltd. refinery in Karachi that claimed the lives of three workers last week.

Jul 15th, 2002

By an OGJ correspondent

KARACHI, July 15 -- An investigation is continuing into a fire at the National Refinery Ltd. refinery in Karachi that claimed the lives of three workers last week.

Three people were burned to death and six wounded at the National Refinery Ltd. (NRL) refinery in Karachi July 11, when fire broke out in a lube base manufacturing unit undergoing annual maintenance. The fire was apparently ignited when welders were cutting an oil pipeline to the plant as part of a routine maintenance turnaround.

At the time of the fire, the lubes unit was already shut down for the turnaround, although all other-units at the refinery remained in normal operation.

Controversy surrounds the cause of the incident. According to firefighters, the fire occurred outside a furnace when workers were on scaffolding carrying out the routine scheduled maintenance work. An official NRL statement said contract workers within the furnace were trapped, suffering serious burns.

Some refinery workers, however, alleged negligence on the part of NRL's safety department as the cause, claiming the department did not fully examine the area before issuing work permits and that the oil pipeline being cut was not properly voided.

"A detailed investigation is being carried out," NRL said.

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