The fire in Arcelor’s blast furnace A may compromise the continuity of the facility until 2025

by time news

ArcelorMittal’s blast furnace A in Veriña (Gijón) suffered a spectacular accident yesterday as a result of a fire at the facility that forced the evacuation of 50 workers and forced the shutdown of the plant, whose damages are pending evaluation. Although from the outset it was feared that significant damage could have been caused to the facility, with a possible crucible perforation –a critical component of the kiln–, the company did not confirm this point while waiting for the technicians to access the plant for inspection once the installation has cooled down. The fire was brought under control by firefighters from the steel company in one hour and forty minutes.

The accident, which generated an intense smoke of enormous proportions and which was visible from great distances, did not cause injuries or injuries, but it opens the mystery about the affectation that it may entail for the production of the Asturian steel company.

The blast furnace A, the oldest of the two existing ones, was stopped between September 28 and February 2 due to the drop in international and national demand for steelbut it was reopened a month and a half ago and was working at half capacity, as was kiln B.

The useful life of the affected facility originally ended at the end of 2024, but it had been decided to extend it until 2025 to allow time for the company to start up the new iron ore direct reduction (DRI) furnace, a strategic investment that will allow initiate the decarbonisation of the industrial process and guarantee the continuity of the steel industry in Asturias in the long term in the face of growing environmental requirements.

Blast furnace B, whose shutdown maneuver came to be initiated in a preventive way due to the extent of the flares in its twin facility, did not stop its production and last night it continued to work normally.

The furnace should be active until the commissioning of the new green steel plant

The accident broke out at 17.50 hours during a routine nozzle replacement operation, with the furnace in technical shutdown. Labor sources explained that the installation had been unstable for several days (with temperature control problems) that they were trying to control. During the maneuver, the process was destabilized, which gave rise to a violent reaction inside the kiln, reported the company, which caused several explosions and a large amount of inflammation, labor sources said.

The images were very impressive due to the extent of the flames and the spectacularity of the smoke that emanated from the facility until the fire was put out. The fire was limited at all times to the furnace and did not reach other areas of the factory.

However, and as a precaution, the evacuation affected both the 20 afternoon shift workers from the damaged oven and another 30 employees in offices, auxiliary buildings and adjacent facilitieswho were ordered to leave the area due to their proximity to the damaged plant.

The first hypothesis suggested that there had been a perforation of the crucible, located in the lower part of the furnace and in which the pig iron (molten iron ore) was deposited, which would have given rise to an uncontrolled exit of the incandescent material, origin of the fire, which, according to some versions collected, would have affected the electrical system and other parts of the installation.

In the end, everything points to the fact that the pig iron escaped abroad through an existing nozzle in the northern area, located at the height of the crucible, although it is unknown if this crucial equipment could have been damaged.

The economic impact of the accident will depend on this and other possible damages in the installation, the feasibility of repairing a facility that had a few months left of useful life and, consequently, the impact on production.


IN IMAGES: A fire forces the evacuation of Arcelor’s blast furnace A in Gijón
M. L.

Now the two blast furnaces (the only ones in Spain) were working at half capacity Given the relative low existing demand, therefore, B could assume at least a good part of the workload of the damaged facility. But this, and pending the evaluation of the damages, throws uncertainty on the maximum productive capacity that the Asturian steel head may reach. The impact on employment can be assumed by resorting to the temporary employment regulation file (ERTE) agreed with the unions, but this agreement ends within eight days.

ArcelorMittal fire departments from its Gijón and Avilés parks managed to control the fire at 7.30 pm. From then on, the firefighters continued with the refrigeration tasks to start the inspections, in which company technicians and the company’s industrial safety team participate

Both members of the Group of Specialists in the Deactivation of Explosive Ordnances and NRBQ nature (Gedex) and the Seprona of the Gijón Civil Guard headquarters traveled to the factory to carry out environmental measurements after the incident. These tasks will continue throughout the week.

The Principality made itself available to the company, as did the community emergency service and there were contacts from the Asturian president, Adrian Barbón; the vice president, Juan Cofinoand the Minister of Industry, Enrique Fernandezwith company managers. Barbón expressed his support for the company and workers. The PP candidate Diego Cangashe was concerned on Twitter and expressed his support for the staff and the company.

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