Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A. (otherwise known as Formosa Plastics) was founded in 1978 and is a large supplier for petrochemicals and plastic resins. This company is quickly expanding and currently brings in annual revenue of $5 billion between their 3 current plants in Point Comfort, Texas; Delaware City, Delaware; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; with their company headquarters located in Livingston, New Jersey. While this company seeks to demonstrate its commitment and dedication to the communities they are involved in, Formosa still holds a history of chemical plant accidents that have resulted in the injuries of their employees. Accidents that could have likely been prevented.
April 2004 Formosa Plant Explosion in Iliopoulos, Illinois
In April of 2004, Formosa’s chemical plant in Iliopoulos, Illinois was the site of a deadly explosion. The incident led to the death of five workers and the injuries of many others. Three workers were hospitalized for critical injuries. The explosion itself was catastrophic, and the entire site was shut down. Flames burned for days.
This specific plant manufactured polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and there was concern that the production of the chemicals somehow involved an error, resulting in a release of vinyl chloride into the PVC-1 production unit. Once these highly flammable chemicals collided, the explosion was a likely result. Investigators listed the aforementioned as one of many possibilities for the explosion on the site, along with numerous concerns for the proper functioning of the site’s safety system.
October 2005 Point Comfort Plant Explosion
Another incident occurred at the Point Comfort location just one year later in October 2005, resulting in multiple injuries. Reports from the incident show that nine of the victims injured in the blast were treated and then released from the hospital, whereas one man was listed in fair condition with burn wounds. The final victim had one-third of his body covered in severe burns; he was in critical condition. One worker at the scene of the explosion said that there were at least five different blasts, with big fireballs sent into the sky as gas escaped into the air.
In April of 2005, the Point Comfort facility was fined $150,000 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for pollution violations. Vinyl chloride and other chemicals were being released into the air at an unsafe level. Sadly, it appears that not much changed at the plant, as evidenced by the October blast.
As a result of the Point Comfort plant explosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued a case study on the site in order to determine what hazards were present. What they found was more than they expected, realizing that there were several safety violations involved. The case study shows that a forklift (which was carrying loaded cylinders of breathing air) snagged a valve as it drove past, pulling it out of the system. The air then mixed with the propane as it was released from the broken valve, causing the initial fire, which injured 14 people. CSB noted that the plant was using the wrong valves, and had the system been properly equipped with the automated shutdown valves, the flow of the chemical would have ceased, therefore decreasing the size of the fire significantly. However, because this was not the case, the room quickly filled with smoke and operators were unable to shut down the system manually.
There were a number of safety hazards and violations on this site. The trailer that hit the valve was not properly guarded, and the steel supports were not fireproofed, causing a collapse after the flames. Lead CSB investigator Robert Hall shared that the facility was not properly updated to protect it from major fires and that the employees were not properly protected with fire retardant clothing.
May 2013 Fire at Formosa Plant in Point Comfort, TX
In May of 2013, 16 workers were rushed to hospitals throughout Texas after a fire at the Formosa Plastics chemical plant in Fort Comfort. The ethylene purification unit at the plant went up in flames during a maintenance procedure. A fire squad at the plant extinguished the fire before the local fire department arrived, but the incident still did some damage to the facility. The incident is still being investigated, and the CSB has not yet announced whether or not the plant failed to implement the safety procedures recommended after the fire in 2005.
At the time of the May 2013 accident, the Formosa Plastics website claimed that the plant recently achieved 3 million man-hours without a lost-time injury. Unfortunately, the plant needed to restart its safety goal. The plant was originally established in 1983 and then expanded with $1.5 billion in 1994. At this time Formosa Plastics added polypropylene units, ethylene dichloride units, LLPDE, HPDE, chlor-alkali, olefins, and power co-generation. The plant also added a new wastewater treatment facility to the case. At the time that this expansion was completed, it was the largest one-time private investment in the entire state of Texas.
FPC TX decided to do another expansion project at the industrial site in 1998 and put another $900 million into the location to add another olefins plant, an HPDE plant, and another PP plant. The plant was designed to protect the environment and limit exposure to dangerous chemicals. There was another expansion in 2002, and the massive plant is now responsible for a variety of plastics production.
A new Specialty PVC production plant recently started up at the Point Comfort location and a new Circulating Fluidized Bed energy unit is providing energy-efficient steam and electricity to the location. Formosa Plastics writes that they are planning on another expansion at the plant in the future using almost $2 billion of investment capital. The worksite employs about 1,800 workers in the state of Texas and they plan to use nearly $2 billion to complete the next expansion at the site.
Talk to a Formosa Plastics Plant Accident Attorney Today
If you were harmed in a fire, explosion, or other accident at any Formosa Plastics plant, you have the right to receive medical treatment and to have your lost wages replaced. You may also be entitled to loss of future wages, ongoing care, and more. Our Formosa plant accident lawyers can talk to you about what happened and can offer insight into your options, so you can make an informed choice about moving forward with a claim. If we take on your case, you can count on our team to do everything in our power to help you recover and move on. To learn more, call (888) 493-1629.