Yesterday, 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. Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident. Formosa Plastics is a large company that has four plants in the United States. These are located in Livingston, New Jersey, Delaware City, Delaware, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Point Comfort, Texas. Their Point Comfort site has thirteen separate production units spread out on the 1,600 acre petrochemical complex. The site also has a variety of support facilities.
The Formosa Plastics websites claims that the plant recently achieved three million man-hours without a lost-time injury. Unfortunately, the plant will need to restart their safety goal after the fire that occurred yesterday. 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 of 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 employees about 1,800 employees in the state of Texas and they plan to use nearly $2 billion to completed the next expansion at the site.
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Point Comfort Plant Explosion 2013