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Japan's Cosmo Oil closes refinery unit after fire

Written by: Staff
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TOKYO, Apr 16 (Reuters) Cosmo Oil Co., Japan's fourth-largest refiner, said today it has closed down a desulphurisation unit near Tokyo after a fire at the plant.

The fire, set off by an explosion in the early hours today, had been extinguished, there were no casualties, and refinery workers had evacuated the site, a local fire department spokesman said.

The blast occurred at about 5:40 a.m. 0210 hrs IST today at a desulphurisation facility at Cosmo's Chiba refinery, about 35 km east of Tokyo.

A spokesman at Cosmo Oil said the capacity of the closed desulphurisation unit was 35,000 bpd. He added that operation of a 240,000-bpd crude distillation unit at the plant would not be affected by the fire.

There was some leakage of toxic gas in the vicinity of the unit initially, but such substance could not be detected after the fire was put out, the local fire spokesman said.

Television pictures earlier showed flames and thick black smoke rising high into the air at the site, which is about 1 km away from the nearest residential area.

REUTERS PDS BD0754

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