Almost a year after the devastating major fire at a fuel storage facility in the western Cuban province of Matanzas, reconstruction of the destroyed fuel tanks has begun. As reported by the news agency ACN, work is currently underway on the foundation of the first of four planned tanks.
The new tanks are to have better protection mechanisms against fires and accidents, engineer Rigel Rodríguez of the state fuel company Cupet said. For example, they will have a floating aluminum membrane and a geodesic dome that is resistant to lightning strikes. The capacity will be 50,000 cubic meters, comparable to the previous structure. The rerouting of several pipes enabled the tanker base in the bay to be brought back into service relatively soon after the accident.
A total of 14 structures are planned, including a road in the southern area of the burned tanks, a kind of dike above the tanks that will serve as a retaining wall in the event of a leak, and projects to ensure a stable water supply to the plant from which firefighting water will be fed in the event of an accident. The Vietnamese government donated US$250,000 to purchase an automatic fire extinguishing system. In addition, the lightning conductor system for the entire plant is to be redesigned and the distances between the tanks increased.
The first of the four tanks is scheduled for completion next April, with the rest to follow by 2026. When completed, the project is expected to restore the full 200,000 cubic meters of storage capacity lost in the fire. The cost of reconstruction is estimated at $91 million.
Reconstruction of homes that were destroyed meanwhile nears completition: 18 of the 26 affected buildings have now been rebuilt using government funds. These are small single-family houses of the “Sandino” type. The remaining houses are to follow in the coming weeks. A new multi-purpose building is to be built in the neighborhood with funds from the official donation fund, which will house various services.
The major fire occurred on August 6 last year as a result of a lightning strike. This initially ignited a tank, which later exploded, after which the flames spread to three other tanks. As a result of the fire, 150 people were injured. 16 people died, most of them firefighters.
This article was first published on Cuba Heute, a German-language news portal.