ROTTERDAM - have at least six people were killed In an explosion at DSM in Rotterdam Botlek. One of the four injured are in bad shape. The explosion at the Montrealweg is the fourth accident in the industry of the Rijnmond region in a month.

According to eyewitnesses, there was something for half past two to three explosions. First, there would have been a hit with tank D1102. Thereafter, an explosion followed by the tank next to it, D102a.

The tanks were filled with benzoic acid, a feedstock nylon. The workers were trying to build bridge connections between four tanks.

After the first explosion followed by two smaller blasts. The fire was immediately contested by the company fire. Which later got help from colleagues in Rozenburg, Rotterdam.

One of the main tasks was cooling a tank with toluene, which stood at forty meters away from one of the flashpoints. Burning toluene is toxic.

Companies in the area of ​​DSM were shut down and evacuated. The resilient Rozenburg between Maassluis and was taken out of the sails.

A little after midday, a half hour after the first explosion, the fire could give the signal "fire master.


According to director Baaten DSM is not yet clear what caused the blast. It is not certain that there is a connection between the work and the explosion, This afternoon he told De Telegraaf.

"A catwalk was applied to one of the tanks exploded. ... It was not welded. Maybe there's drill, but there is essentially worked with nuts and bolts. Moreover, compliance with all safety requirements. " (DSM-A Director. Baaten in Telegraph 14 december 1991)

According to the union, there may be more going on. There would be spoken by one of the union of a venting error. The accident could have happened at the time it was pumped from a collapsed storage tank to another. In this would have created pressure, could not leave.


The victims worked for contractors and chop off Trichtingen Spreeuwenberg from Zwartewaal. The names of the victims have not been released. According to a spokesman for the emergency services, the identification is particularly difficult.

The identity can probably be traced through the teeth of the victims. Possibly a special team is composed of specialists, that should do the job.

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Measurements of the Environmental Protection Agency (DCMR) it appeared that there were measured outside the site not have high concentrations of hazardous substances from DSM.

The smoke, from the fire, drew about Maassluis and Vlaardingen. There were complaints about provocative eyes.

disaster Transmitter

Radio Rijnmond morning was used as emergency channel. The broadcaster spent five minutes after the explosion, the news that there may have been a blast at DSM. People from Vlaardingen had phoned the radio studio.

Fifteen minutes later, could set the transmitter with certainty that there had been an explosion. At eleven o'clock the episode was dedicated to the explosion.

Coincidentally was a representation of Radio Rijnmond, the fire department and the city just in the hall discussing the affairs of calamities. That conversation was put immediately stop.


The accident at DSM is the fourth accident in the Rijnmond region in a month. In mid-November, there was great alarm at the chemical company Tiofine, escaped after a chlorine cloud. Cloud passed over the area of ​​Rijnmond Waste Processing (APR). there were 29 people ill.

A few days later it was hit by Nerefco. That escaped liquid LPG. That continued on without consequences.

Last week there was an explosion at New Matex, Also in the Botlek area. The explosion was in a cleaning tank, which was just cleaned. In the explosion the roof of the tank flew into the air. Miraculously no one was injured.

The last time there were regrettable deaths in an accident in the port of Rotterdam was two years ago. In janitorial three people died in one of the companies to Pakhoed. Because the fear was that there would release toxins, people in Vlaardingen were instructed to close windows and doors. The lawsuit over the accident in three weeks.

Hoe ging het verder?

The explosion was ultimately a seventh victim. Three months after the crash also died of a wound.

It took days before all the victims were identified. The mutilations were so heavy that the identity could be established on the basis of dentition. The victims come from Rotterdam, Puttershoek and Dirksland.

According to some media (o.a. Telegraph) the explosion at DSM was the biggest in the history of the Port of Rotterdam, but that statement is not checking. Nor is it clear who made that comment.

Research shows that DSM is negligent. In one of the tanks was a mixture of air and bezoëzuurdamp originated, and that mixture is explosive. That could know the business, police say, DCMR and Labor.

Shortly before the explosion was still a truck filled with 24.800 kilogram of benzoic acid from tank D-112. After that, from DSM staff have made a measurement using a so-called explosion meter, but which was not suitable for the measurement of benzoic acid.


The explosion was caused by welding, but how is not clear. In the official report listed five possible causes.

The victims have done nothing wrong, the study shows. The license was in order. The company went on to provide the work permit not assume that the explosive mengel were not present. In total, 17 DSM noted inaccuracies of.

Justice prosecuted not individuals, but the company is dead laid by misconduct. Shortly before the trial starts, eighteen months later, there is a settlement. DSM will pay the maximum fine of 290.000 gulden. This will avoid a lawsuit follows that lasts for years.

DSM tanks are now part of the Emerald Kalama Montrealweg.

RTV Rijnmond in 2016 a look back made to the events from 1991 DSM. In the serie 7 minuten is among others discussed with survivors.


NRC Handelsblad - 14 december 1991

Telegraph - 14 december 1991

NRC Handelsblad - 16 december 1991

Reformed Daily - 2 december 1992

Reformed Daily - 3 mei 1993

Official report about the explosion at DSM

Author: Dave Datema thanks to Sjoerd Bootsma

published: 13-12-2017

story number: 103