Accidents are an inevitable part of life. Children learn this at an early age by bumping their head, scraping their knees, or falling off the swings. They learn that sometimes painful experiences just happen, seemingly without cause or reason. These children carry these lessons into adulthood, and then project their tolerance for accidents onto their families and occupation. The chemical industry, while one of the safest industries, has the potential for catastrophic accidents. Through experience and renewed focus on the conservation of life, the chemical industry has improved its safety considerably. In 2005, chemical industry fatality rate (the number of fatalities per year per total number of people in the applicable population) was the third lowest when compared to industries such as agriculture, coal mining, and construction1. However, accidents still occur, sometimes with regrettable repercussions. In 2005, Formosa Plastics Corporation in Point Comfort, Texas experienced an accident with severe consequences.
Formosa Plastics Corporation has four plastics manufacturing sites in the United States which were located in Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas2. The manufacturing site in Point Comfort, Texas (located 120 miles south of Houston on the Gulf Coast) had 17 operating units which covered 1,800 acres as shown in Figure 1.The Olefins II Unit, highlight in the box on Figure 1, was the ground zero for the fire and explosion. A map of the Texas manufacturing site is available in Appendix 13.
The Olefins II Unit makes hydrocarbons from naphtha or natural gas using furnaces. After distillation, the p...
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...com/company/operations/point_comfort_tx.html (accessed April 3, 2014).
4. "The History of Plant Incidents at Formosa Plastics and Past Safety Violations." Industrial Injury Attorneys. http://www.industrialinjuryattorney.com/Industrial-Accident-Blog/2013/May/The-History-of-Plant-Incidents-at-Formosa-Plasti.aspx (accessed April 3, 2014).
5. Cable, Josh. "Lawsuit: Formosa's Negligence Caused Propylene Blast." EHS Today Home Page. http://ehstoday.com/news/ehs_imp_43628 (accessed April 3, 2014).
6. Hess, Glenn. "CSB to Investigate Formosa Plastics Explosion." Chemical Market Reporter265 (): 4-4.
7. Sissell, Kara. "Workers File Lawsuit over Formosa's Texas Blast." Chemical Week 168 (): 27-27.
8. http://media.victoriaadvocate.com/img/croppedphotos/2013/05/02/PLSIDE_FORMOSA_EXPLOSION_12WEB_t630.jpg?30004eeab9fb5f824ff65e51d525728c55cf3980 (accessed April 3, 2014).
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