April, 2004

This is a repeating event

200423AprAll DayFormosa Plastics (Illiopolis) Explosion 2004Formosa Plastics Corporation Illiopolis (US-IL) Origin: CSB Lessons:Emergency Preparedness,Incident Investigation,Operational Integrity,Process KnowledgeIndustry:Plastics & PolymersCountry:United StatesLanguage:ENLoC:Operator error

Summary

On April 23, 2004, an explosion and fire killed five and seriously injured three workers at the Formosa Plastics Corporation, IL (Formosa-IL) PVC manufacturing facility in Illiopolis, Illinois. The explosion occurred after a large quantity of highly flammable vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) was inadvertently released from a reactor and ignited. The explosion and fire that followed destroyed much of the facility and burned for two days. Local authorities ordered residents within one mile of the facility to evacuate.

KEY ISSUES:
• HUMAN FACTORS
• HAZARD EVALUATION
• INCIDENT INVESTIGATION
• EMERGENCY RESPONSE

ROOT CAUSES:
1. Borden Chemical did not adequately address the potential for human error.
2. Formosa-IL did not adequately address the potential for human error.
3. Formosa-IL relied on a written procedure to control a hazard with potentially catastrophic consequences.


Image Credit: CSB

Origin

CSBUS Chemical Safety Board

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