Huge blaze breaks out at Stanlow oil refinery

Picture by PHIL OWEN

Firefighters are tackling a blaze at Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port.

Emergency services were called to the Ellesmere Port site shortly after 2pm this afternoon after reports of an explosion and fireball at the plant, which is owned by India-based conglomerate Essar.

Hundreds of staff have been evacuated, and the company said everyone has been accounted for.

The riverside plant’s own fire team was working with Cheshire firefighters to bring the blaze under control.

The former Shell plant has a direct pipeline to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport to supply aviation fuel.

Six fire engines were called to the plant to tackle the blaze inside a chemical manufacturing unit.

Eyewitnesses said smoke and flames were visible from as far as eight miles away.

Around 900 Essar Oil UK staff work at the plant, as well as a further 500 contractors.

Stanlow provides 16% of all petrol and diesel fuel in the UK.

In a statement, the company said its own emergency response teams were working with fire crews and refinery operations were not affected.

A spokesman for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Crews are using a ground monitor and a handheld monitor to extinguish pockets of fire.”

The Environment Agency said it was aware of the incident and would work with Essar to minimise any environmental damage.