The company linked to a huge fire that broke out at a waste treatment facility in Tuas two years ago has been slapped with a S$230,000 (US$170,000) fine for unsafe work practices, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said today.
The blaze, which occurred on the morning of Feb 23, 2017, at the ECO Special Waste Management facility at 23 Tuas View Circuit, took 200 firefighters about four hours to extinguish.
According to MOM’s statement, the fire broke out while a worker was transferring liquid Hexane, a highly flammable chemical made from crude oil, from a tank to a plastic container via a metal hose.
As it turns out, that particular container was unsuitable for storing liquid Hexane because it was not made to get rid of any electrostatic charges that would be discharged from the liquid while it was being poured, MOM wrote in its statement, citing findings from its investigation.
This caused a “Hexane vapor-air mixture” that resulted in the fire, which then spread throughout the facility due to the presence of other flammable solvents. According to the ministry, it also found evidence of another flammable liquid known as Xylene, which had previously been spilled on the floor and was not cleaned up by workers.
“The spilled liquids formed flammable vapors in the area, which fuelled the spread of the fire,” the ministry said.
Fortunately, no workers were injured in the incident, as all of them were safely evacuated. The facility, however, was badly damaged.
Here’s a Facebook post on the fire, to refresh your memory: