Gas explosion shakes Nansei Oil refinery

A gas explosion occurred at the Nansei Oil Company plant in the Onaha district of Nishihara Town about 11:30 a.m. on July 19.

A company spokesman said that the explosion took place in a fire heater of the gasoline production equipment.

According to the Okinawa Eastern Fire Department Head Quarters, the explosion damaged the four-meter-long wall of the heater. No fire broke out, no one was injured, and there was no damage to surrounding facilities. However, some bricks were found 80 meters away, and some heat insulating material was spread out 30 meters away.

The Fire Department and Nansei Oil Co. officials are investigating the cause of the explosion. The Fire Department also ordered Nansei Oil Co. to turn off the equipment until the cause is determined and improvements made to ensure the safety.

According to Nansei Oil Co., the explosion occurred when propane gas caught fire as a worker tried to fire up the equipment. The fire heater is made of iron and is 8 meters wide, 10 meters long and 19 meters high, and there is usually no propane gas. The fire heater was not working at the time because of a regular maintenance, and it was prepared to be started to run.