Although the company confirmed the deaths of two of its employees and injuries to seven, there has been no mention of how the fire started.
In a statement the company said: “The incident which occurred just after 4am has been contained and the plant is now stable and all work has been stopped. City of Cape Town fire services and emergency services remain at the scene. There is no danger to surrounding communities. There is no immediate threat to fuel supplies because of the incident.”
Chief executive Jonathan Molapo said: “This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with the families of all those affected. Our priority now is to support them, and our colleagues, and to continue to ensure the plant is completely safe. We will conduct a full investigation of the incident.”
Chairperson of the provincial Standing Committee for Local Government Derrick America said: “I will invite the relevant safety officials and Astron management to brief the committee on how the issue arose, ways it can be prevented in future, and what critical lessons can be learnt for the benefit of all.
“An investigation is under way and should determine the cause of the incident. I do not want to speculate or to make pronouncements that may be misinterpreted or undermine the investigation.”
Local Government MEC Anton Bredell said: “In the early hours of this morning an explosion occurred at the Astron fuel refinery in the industrial area of Montague Gardens in Cape Town. The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue services responded immediately and were on the scene within minutes.
“The incident is reported to have been on the production side, not storage side.
“At this stage information is still coming in, but there are no current concerns about pollution or increased risk for the community to be concerned about. We will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. Firefighters would remain on the scene “until operations have been concluded.”
Astron Energy, which owns and operates the country’s third-largest crude oil refinery, is majority owned by commodities trader Glencore.