LCY Chemical Corp (李長榮化學), which makes petrochemical products, yesterday said it had nothing to do with the explosions in Greater Kaohsiung, as its pipelines were still intact.
“The pipeline that caused the explosions has an 8-inch diameter and does not belong to LCY Chemical. LCY Chemical’s closest pipeline has a 4-inch diameter and is 10m away from the explosion site,” company spokesperson Abby Pan (潘俐霖) told a press conference in Taipei.
Pan said the company had accompanied Greater Kaohsiung’s fire bureau to investigate its pipelines after the explosions and found that its pipelines were intact.
However, the company and China General Terminal and Distribution Corp (華運倉儲), which provides warehousing and transportation of petrochemical raw materials, did encounter difficulties when they were transporting propene using underground pipelines on Thursday evening, Pan said.
The flow of propene unexpectedly stopped at 8:49pm on Thursday during transportation, and China General Terminal halted the transportation to inspect it, Pan said.
From 9:40pm to 10:10pm, China General Terminal tested the pressure in the pipelines, with results showing that the pressure was normal, Pan said.
The company resumed the transportation process at 10:10pm, but it was not successful, she said.
China General Terminal decided to stop the effort entirely at 11:35pm, while the explosion occurred at 11:57pm, Pan said.
Pan said the explosions were not likely to have been caused by propene, as city residents reported smelling possible gas leaks at 5pm, before the company had problems with its propene transportation.
Pan said LCY Chemical’s pipelines are maintained by state-run oil refiner CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), while King Mo Cathodic Protection Co (金茂) is responsible for protecting them against corrosion.
Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝), who is in charge of the Central Disaster Response Center, said earlier yesterday that a propene leak was likely the cause of the explosions.
Greater Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Wu Hong-mo (吳宏謀) said the city government found that the pressure of a 4-inch pipeline used for transporting propene to Ren Da Industrial Park (仁大工業區) was abnormally low between 8:40pm and 9:00pm on Thursday.
Wu said the pipeline belongs to either LCY Chemical, China Petrochemical Development Corp (中石化) — which makes caprolactam and acrylonitrile — or CPC.
China Petrochemical Development said the pressure of its propene pipelines was normal until 3:00am yesterday, while CPC denied that it was the company’s pipeline.
Shares of LCY Chemical and China Petrochemical Development slumped close to the 7 percent daily limit yesterday, closing at NT$23.25 and NT$11.40 respectively, underperforming the TAIEX, which was down 0.53 percent in Taipei trading.