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Shell Says Train Wagon From German Refinery Spills Oil Product




By Nicholas Comfort

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, said a railway boiler wagon spilled a “bitumen-like” oil by-product after leaving the Heide refinery in the northern German town of Hemmingstedt.

The heated container tipped over and released “some” of its 50 metric tons of the viscous substance at 12:50 p.m. central European time yesterday, company spokesman Axel Pommeraenke said today by telephone from Hamburg. The incident didn’t disrupt rail travel to and from Shell’s refinery, he added.

The non-toxic liquid, which is shipped at 160 degrees Celsius (320 Fahrenheit), hardened as it seeped out and poses no danger to people or wildlife, according to officials at Shell and state railway operator Deutsche Bahn AG. The train’s 10 remaining wagons were sent to a plant in Brunsbuettel, about 33 kilometers (21 miles) further south, where their contents will be used to make fertilizer, Pommeraenke said.

The damage to the wagon, railway bed and a crossing totals 150,000 euros ($213,140), local police said in a statement on their Web site yesterday. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bahn declined to comment on the figure and asked not to be named, citing company policy. Shell is insured for the damage to the wagon, Pommeraenke said.

The spilled product can still be used once it’s retrieved after the wagon cools, Pommeraenke said. The delay in supply won’t affect production at the fertilizer plant, he added.

Deutsche Bahn’s recovery crews won’t be able to salvage the substance until the beginning of next year, the company’s spokeswoman said, declining to be more specific.

The Heide refinery can process 91,000 barrels of oil a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Comfort in Frankfurt at[email protected]

Last Updated: December 30, 2008 06:55 EST

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