BANGKOK, July 4 – No evacuation order has been issued after the fire at the Bangchak refinery on Wednesday morning, but nearby schools have been closed and officials are examining the air quality.
Local authorities have alerted about 100 families in five nearby communities around the oil refinery about the situation. Residents have been told to be prepared for evacuation if needed, said Silapasuay Raweesangsoon, director of the Phra Khanong district office.
Emergency workers brought the fire under control, but smoke and fumes still envelop the area. The district sent rescue workers and four more fire engines to the site, but no casualties have been reported. Smoke has lessened but firefighters keep hosing water on the overheated complex of piping.
A school less than one kilometre from the refinery closed, sending its 2,600 students home, said Thawin Srijaingam, director of Phra Khanong Phitthayalai School.
Regarding air quality around the area, Dr Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, director of the Department of the Disease Control said that officials are inspecting the air quality and if it is found to be hazardous and local residents will be told to evacuate. So far, there has been no report of any death in the incident.
Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, deputy director of the department of the disease control, asked the public not to panic but to follow the advice of the authorities.
Burning oil caused carbon dioxide CO2 to spread in the air, he said. People who suffered eye and nose irritation are advised to cover their noses with wet cloths and leave the area and wash their eyes with clean water and wear sunglasses.
Industry Minister Pongsvas Svasti said that he has ordered a 30-day closure of Bangchak Petroleum refinery to investigate the cause of the fire.