An explosion at a state-run industrial complex in South Korea has caused a 10 hour blackout and stoppage of operations at several major petrochemical manufacturers, resulting in snowballing losses. Explosions were also heard at other factories and black smoke came pouring out from plant chimneys due to incomplete combustion of chemical materials.
A surge protector, designed to protect against voltage spikes such as lightning strikes, exploded at the Hanwha Chemical Corporation¡'s factory in the Yeosu National Industrial Complex in South Jeolla. This triggered a chain reaction of blackouts at nearby firms on the same power supply network. In the aftermath of the explosion, operations were stopped at factories of five companies: Hanwha, Yeochun NCC, Kolon, Daelim Industrial Company and Poly Mirae Co. Three factories of Yeochun NCC have been completely stopped since Saturday, as the firm reports at least 60 bln won in damages. Yeochun NCC supplies chemical materials to Kolon, Daelim and Poly Mirae, hence production at these plants was also partially or fully stopped.
The incident was the second massive blackout at the Yeosu National Industrial Complex in two years. On May 31, 2006, the blackout was only for one or two seconds, but 10 bln won (US$9.9 mln) of losses was reported.