Deadly explosion rocks Macquarie-operated German chemical park

The blast caused a number of fatalities and injuries in one of the complexes operated by Currenta, acquired by MIRA funds in 2019.

A deadly explosion in a German industrial park operated by a portfolio company of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has led to at least two fatalities, 31 injuries and five missing people at the time of writing.

The blast occurred Tuesday in the west German city of Leverkusen, at a Chempark site that is home to more than 30 firms, including chemical companies like Bayer and Lanxess. While the cause is not yet known, the explosion took place at Chempark’s waste incineration plant.

“We are deeply saddened. The events of [Tuesday] have shocked us all. At least two people lost their lives. Five are currently still missing. We no longer have much hope of finding them alive,” Frank Hyldmar, chairman of the Currenta management board, the company that operates Chempark, said in an e-mailed statement.

He added: “We cannot yet say anything about the cause of the accident. The responsible authorities have started the investigation.”

The subsequent fire caused by the blast took four hours to be extinguished, according to media reports. At one point, police asked residents in the vicinity of the park to stay indoors, shut doors and windows and turn off air conditioning systems, as it probed for toxic gases. At the time of writing, the city has been given the all-clear. However, Currenta has warned people in Leverkusen to avoid touching any soot from the incineration plant that may have fallen across the city, and which could be dangerous.

In its statement, Currenta said: “The extent of the damage and its impact on the future still need to be assessed. However, it is foreseeable that it may be some time before operations can be resumed in the usual manner.”

Currenta was the second investment clinched by the €6 billion Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 6, in August of 2019, although it also included equity from Macquarie’s €4 billion MEIF5. Bayer and Lanxess were the sellers, in a deal worth an enterprise value of €3.5 billion.

In Currenta, MIRA took over a company which operates energy supply and other infrastructure at chemical parks in Leverkusen, Dormagen and Krefeld-Uerdingen. This includes electricity, steam and natural gas covered by long-term contracts with Bayer thought to be for about 10 years, Macquarie said in a statement at the time. Currenta also has waste management and water contracts.

A spokeswoman for MIRA declined to comment, directing us to Currenta for comment.