One worker has suffered a burn and 50 others have been evacuated from a major steelworks after a chemical fire broke out at the site on Tuesday morning.
More than 11 fire trucks and 40 NSW firefighters raced to the Bluescope’s Springhill Road facility at Port Kembla after six cylinders containing acetylene, a highly flammable gas, caught alight just after 10.30am.
‘The cylinders have been generating significant heat, with their exposure to flames posing a risk of an explosion,’ NSW Fire and Rescue said on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Fire crews have been working to protect a nearby building by applying water to the impacted cylinders and keeping surrounding areas cool.
NSW Fire and Rescue deployed substantial resources to battle the chemical fire at Bluescope’s Springhill Road facility at Port Kembla on Tuesday
‘The blaze will continue to burn until the gas supply is consumed by fire.
‘At this stage, three of the cylinders have burnt-out, while three remain alight.’
Fifty workers were evacuated as a precaution, the fire service said, but a BlueScope manager confirmed the site was still operational.
‘Contractors were setting up a pack, when one of them turned the gas bottle open. Gas released and ignited,’ the manager said.
‘At this stage, firefighters continue to hose down the bottles to keep them cool so no others ignite while the gas burns itself out.’
The manager said SafeWork NSW had investigated the incident and had since released the site back to BlueScope.
It is understood the worker suffered burns to his knuckles and drove himself to hospital prior to the arrival of emergency services.
Bluescope’s Port Kembla complex, located south of Wollongong in NSW’s Illawarra region, is a major steel works with an annual production capacity of over three million tonnes of crude steel.