EghtesadOnline: Three fuel depots in the vicinity of Tehran are safe and there is no need for relocation, head of the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company (NIOPDC) said.
“Shahran fuel depot in northwestern Tehran, Rey oil storage facility in the south and Qouchak depot in the northeast of the capital meet the safety criteria expected of such units,” Keramat Veiskarami was quoted as saying by ISNA.
He was responding to a recent report issued by Tehran City Council, which cited some members as claiming that the fuel depots in the proximity of the sprawling capital are extremely hazardous.
“If an incident (man-made or natural) occurs, casualties will be much worse than the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon,” the councilors said.
At least 160 people were killed and 5,000 wounded in a massive warehouse explosion that shook Beirut on Tuesday. Hundreds are missing and the fear is that the death toll will rise. It is still unclear what exactly caused the explosion.
Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab said an investigation would focus on an estimated 2,750 tons of the explosive ammonium nitrate stored at the warehouse.
Rejecting the TCC warning, Veiskarami said, “Insofar as the location is concerned, the facilities are safe. These are vital to supply gasoline to the capital. Security protocols are checked and updated regularly and there is no reason to worry.”
Referring to the Beirut disaster, Majid Farahani, a Tehran councilor, said “lessons should be learnt from the blast due to the negligence of storing toxic chemicals in urban areas.”
He warned about highly flammable chemicals in storage facilities in and around different cities in the country, especially Tehran.
“The northwest fuel depot is located on Tehran’s northern faultline in Shahran district. It should be transferred to a safer place sooner rather than later. The fuel tanks should be retrofitted against all possible risks,” he said.
In 2014, Ahmad Masjed Jamei, a member of the Tehran City Council had noted that the fuel depot in Shahran on the northwestern flank of the capital is beyond the municipality’s jurisdiction for decades. However, with the expansion of the city boundaries over the years, it is now within the city precincts.
“Immediate relocation of the fuel tanks may not be possible, but some measures can be taken to reduce the risk of tanks bursting during earthquakes and other disasters,” Farahani said.
However, no measures have been taken so far to reduce the risks.
Calling Shahran facility a "hydrogen bomb", he added that the depot with its huge tanks is right in the middle of a huge residential district and around 300 tankers, each with a capacity of 30,000 liters, pass through residential streets to load and unload fuel.
The Shahran facility was built in 1974 outside the city boundaries. But the area has grown into a densely populated area in the past 20 years, he recalled, pointing out that in the past 15 years several fuel tankers have had accidents causing panic among residents.
According to Farahani, an accident involving only one tanker while loading may cause a fire that can rapidly spread to all the storage tanks and cause "a bigger disaster than Beirut."
The official reiterated that Shahran faces danger 300 times a day. Relocating chemical storage facilities like fuel storage depots around Tehran should be a priority.