The government of KwaZulu-Natal on Friday made a swift intervention in response to the explosion at the Engen refinery, south of Durban. The intervention included requesting the oil company to immediately institute an investigation into the fire and also help temporarily accommodate nearby residents whose block of flats suffered collateral damage as a result of the fire.
The provincial government’s multi-pronged response included dispatching disaster and emergency teams to assist with the emergency response; sending a team of environmental experts to assess the impact on the environment and deploying officials to support affected residents.
Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC, Mr Ravi Pillay, visited the site this morning and held a meeting with the management of the refinery. After getting a briefing on how the refinery was dealing with the fire, MEC Pillay visited residents at the nearby residential units where roofs of two apartment caught fire allegedly as a result of flying fire embers from the refinery.
MEC Pillay later facilitated a meeting between the representatives of the residents and the management of the refinery which has agreed to find alternative accommodation for the affected residents. Officials from the provincial Department of Human Settlements were also on the scene to conduct an assessment and to provide support to residents.
“Our main concern is the community around this site. But we have been assured that the situation is stable now. We visited some of the residential units and have asked Engen to intervene as part of their social responsibility programme”.
MEC Pillay said the government will be monitoring the situation carefully adding that the National Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Creecy had also made contact with the province on the matter and has also dispatched experts from the national government to also provide support to teams investigating the matter.
“We do not want to preempt the outcome of the investigation and we will keep the community and media updated on any updates. We have been assured that there is no risk of secondary fires and that the refinery has been shut down. They have also assured us that there is no risk of fuel shortages at this stage.”