Workers near a chemical plant in south Sydney evacuated for fear a cooling tower would collapse, causing a “massive fire and explosion”.
Paramedics worked to prevent the tower from falling onto a source of highly flammable hydrogen gas stored next to the power plant on Denison Street in Banksmeadow.
Fire and Rescue NSW said the tank was safely removed before 4pm.
Firefighters were called to the scene around 6:15 am this morning and found flames erupting 50 meters above the exhaust pipe.
Staff initiated an emergency shutdown of the plant and implemented a controlled burn to stop gas flow in the stack.
But shortly after 9 a.m., firefighters returned to the scene and were informed that the tower could collapse due to “structural integrity issues,” Superintendent Adam Dewberry said.
He said there were several hydrogen tanks next to it that could have exploded if they collided.
“If the tower collapsed on these hydrogen tanks, we could be talking about serious fires and explosions in the area.”
A water pipe in the facility broke down, and it is believed that the wooden structure around the cooling tower was damaged.
As a precaution, an evacuation order has been issued for people and local traffic within 800 meters of the tower.
NSW Police, NSW Ambulance paramedics and firefighters remained at the scene through the afternoon.
Drones and lasers are used to monitor the tower’s movements.
Superintendent Dewberry said the situation was “stable” but progress was slow.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-28/banksmeadow-chemical-cooling-tower-fire/102034550 Fear of tower collapse could trigger ‘significant fire and explosion’ at chemical plant in Sydney