No, this video does not show an accident at a uranium enrichment site in Iran
A video circulating on Facebook since early July is said to show an accident at a uranium enrichment site in Iran. However, the incident actually took place at a chemical plant in China on March 5, 2018.
“The moment when an Iranian expert vaporizes in a uranium enrichment site,” reads the text below the video. The video has been shared on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube since July 7.
In the video, a large but short flame suddenly explodes from some sort of vent in the equipment that a worker is tinkering with. The employee disappears immediately. We have decided to only publish screenshots of the video as the images may be shocking to some readers.
The video can be found here, here, here or here [warning: shocking content].
Screen shots show an employee disappearing after a short explosion. The JowharObservers team decided not to publish the video in its entirety as it might shock readers. © Facebook Screenshots show an employee disappearing after a brief explosion. The JowharObservers team decided not to publish the video in its entirety as it might shock readers. © Facebook
To determine where the video came from, we performed a reverse image search [check out our guide here to find out how to do one yourself] using Google Reverse Image Search. This provided a list of where and when the video was previously published online.
The video was posted to YouTube on February 23, 2019 — long before it started circulating with the caption indicating it happened in Iran.
It was also published in an article in the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily on February 22, 2019. The article describes an accident that occurred on May 5, 2018 at a chemical plant of Taixing Yangzi Pharm Chemical Co. in Taizhou in China. The article explains that the accident, captured on surveillance cameras, took place during a maintenance service at the factory and that the worker was killed in the explosion.
In the afternoon of March 5, Wang Nan, the deputy director of the hydrogenation workshop, took out the catalyst from the hydrogenation furnace and opened the vacuum valve on the furnace. As a result, a large amount of air was drawn into the furnace, creating an explosive mixture with the ethanol vapor. Then the hydrogenation furnace exploded and Wang Nan was thrown backward by the force of the explosion.
One of the times the video appears online is on a Reddit post. Under the description of the video, the person who posted the video also posted a link to a press release published by Taizhou Municipality on October 27, 2018, detailing the results of an investigation by local authorities into the accident. The text explains that safety measures were not followed during the maintenance work and instructed the factory to organize risk prevention training. They also fined 350,000 yuan [around 45,000 euros]. We have not been able to determine whether these recommendations have been implemented.
This video has nothing to do with Iran and actually shows an accident that happened at a Chinese factory on March 5, 2018. If you want to learn more about how to fact-check photos and videos you see online, check out our fact-checking guide here.