Issue Date: March 12, 2007
Board Issues Report On Formosa Accident
Company officials knew for years about safety problems that led to the deaths of five workers and the injuries of three others at a Formosa Plastics plant in 2004, says the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board in a final investigation report released last week. During maintenance at the Illiopolis, Ill., facility, an operator mistakenly overrode a safety interlock on a critical valve of a pressurized vessel that was making polyvinyl chloride, thereby releasing liquid and gaseous vinyl chloride that ignited and exploded. Some 150 community residents were evacuated, and the facility was heavily damaged and never reopened. Both Formosa and Borden Chemical, which sold the plant to Formosa in 2002, had conducted analyses that identified the problem or had experienced accidents similar to the deadly one years before it occurred. The board recommends that Formosa review the design and operation of all its U.S. PVC plants to improve the safety interlocks and more thoroughly investigate high-risk hazards to minimize the consequences of human error. The report is available at www.csb.gov.
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