Amigoe: ‘Fire at Isla dump probably started by copper thieves’

WILLEMSTAD — The exceptionally high peak last Friday of sulfur dioxide values – 1650 micrograms – on the website, is being connected with a fire on the property between the Isla-refinery and Nijlweg, which serves as dump. One suspects that unauthorized persons attempted to steal copper by melting the plastic of the cables, which caused the fire. As a result the sulfur buried on the property and the barrels of sulfur started smoldering.

The Isla-refinery emphasized that nobody was injured during the 5-hour long extinguishing operations and that considering the distance of the fire there was no danger whatsoever for the installations on the premises of the refinery. The exceptional peak, described by the Stichting Schoon Milieu Op Curaçao (Smoc) as a ‘new record’, was measured by the measuring station at Kas Chikitu. Hygiene, Safety and Environment Manager of the Isla-refinery, Henny Cornelia: “We reached the conclusion last Monday that the high peak of sulfur dioxide values must be related to the fire because this unusual amount of sulfur was not measured by the other measuring station at Beth Chaim. If the emission of such an amount of sulfur dioxide was caused by the installation at the refinery then the station at Beth Chaim would have noticed it too.”

On the property partly serving as dump for the Isla-refinery and partly used by Refineria di Kòrsou (RdK), various materials with or without chemicals are stored and buried in basins covered with asphalt. “During the extinguishing operations the ground subsided in certain places and we found sulfur later on that had been buried there long ago. The barrels with sulfur iron even caused smoldering areas the following day because the latter still held a high temperature after the extinguishing operations.”

‘Dangerous actions’

The fire had spread quickly because of the huge area and the vegetation (grass) being dry. “We even had to cover smoldering areas with rocks the following morning”, Cornelia said. He pointed out the danger of such attempts to steal copper. Last April copper thieves rooted in asbestos waste building material stored in one of the basins that hadn’t been buried yet – despite signs clearly indicating ‘asbestos’. The authorities warn once again for the great danger of one’s own life and of others when stealing copper.


The fire was reported that same Friday to implementation organization Environment and Nature Conservation. Later on it was concluded that the peak of sulfur emission was connected to the fire. The implementation organization maintains contact with the Isla on the investigation. The Isla-personnel, who wore special protective outfits, were assisted during the extinguishing operations by the fire-brigade. After having emptied a whole water truck during the extinguishing operations it was decided to pull the fire-extinguisher from the refinery to the location.

Source: Amigoe (February 6, 2014)

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