Four Die In Mitsubishi Fire | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: January 2, 2008

Four Die In Mitsubishi Fire

Incident knocks out a large chunk of Japan's ethylene capacity
Department: Business

A fire that broke out on Dec. 21 at a Kashima, Japan, complex owned by Mitsubishi Chemical killed four workers threatens to create shortages in Japan's petrochemical industry.

The blaze occurred just before the New Year's holiday, a time when Japan's corporate world comes to a near standstill, in the cracking furnace of the company's No. 2 ethylene unit. It was extinguished within 12 hours.

While the cause is still unclear, Japanese investigators may lay criminal negligence charges against Mitsubishi, the Japan Times reported. The ethylene unit, with an annual production capacity of about 500,000 metric tons, provides feedstock to multiple downstream plants. Japan's total annual ethylene capacity stands at about 7 million metric tons.

In a statement following the accident, Mitsubishi said that it could predict neither the impact of the fire on its operations in Kashima nor the ramifications it will have on the company's financial performance.

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