Cause of Tuas plant blaze under investigation

The fire that broke out at the Eco Special Waste Management plant at 6.15am yesterday involved flammable materials and chemicals, according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
The fire that broke out at the Eco Special Waste Management plant at 6.15am yesterday involved flammable materials and chemicals, according to the Singapore Civil Defence Force.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MOHAMAD DANIAL

The cause of a fire that engulfed a waste management plant and caused traffic diversions around Tuas View Circuit yesterday is still under investigation.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the blaze, which started at the Eco Special Waste Management plant at 6.15am, involved flammable materials and chemicals.

The company handles waste management for 500 clients from industries such as petrochemical, pharmaceutical, oil and gas at the 7ha plot of land. The waste material handled includes sludge containing heavy metals, solvents and oil, said Eco Special Waste chief executive Rick Reidinger.

Yesterday, worried executives stood outside the office building as they waited for some 200 firefighters to put out the blaze.

"It is our baby," Mr Reidinger said of the nine main treatment and recovery facilities.

Social media was immediately abuzz with videos and photos showing huge flames and black smoke. The flames could be seen from as far away as Pioneer Road, a distance of about 4km.

The 20-odd staff on the night shift in the 24-hour plant were safely evacuated. One firefighter was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital with heat exhaustion.

Access to the area was blocked around a roughly 500m radius, with only those working inside the cordoned zone allowed through.

The feeder buses for the area, services 182 and 182M, were diverted. Police reopened the roads around 7pm yesterday, and bus services should resume today.

After visiting the scene last night, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam commended the SCDF and police officers in a Facebook post for working tirelessly to control the fire. He noted that it could have spread to other factories nearby.

• Additional reporting by Carolyn Khew and Tan Tam Mei

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'Cause of Tuas plant blaze under investigation'. Print Edition | Subscribe