A FLAME shot 150-ft into the air from a chimney at Coryton Oil Refinery following electrical power fluctuations today.

George Whatley, chairman of People Against Methane, witnessed the spectacle, which could be seen as far away as Pitsea.

Mr Whatley, 67, of Limburg Road, Canvey, said: "I was standing at the back of my house and I could see a big plume of smoke and a flame going up at least 150 feet in the air.

The environmental campaigner now wants proper safety procedures put in place should there ever be a major explosion at the refinery.

He said: "In the event of an incident happening like a toxic cloud or an explosion, what safety procedures are there in place for Canvey?

"We need an emergency evacuation plan and escape route from the island.

"The roads could not take a mass evacuation.

"All traffic coming in and out of Canvey has to use the Waterside Farm Roundabout. It would be chaos."

Refinery chiefs played down concerns.

Spokeswoman Georgina Clark said: "An external electrical supply stability issue with the National Grid caused power interruptions.

"There is no damage to refinery units and the refinery's safety systems have all operated as expected.

"The company activated its emergency response plan and worked to resolve any operational issues caused by the power fluctuations from the Grid."