Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Adios, Formosa!

Yesterday Grist posted Diane Wilson’s piece on the recent explosion at Formosa’s Texas plant. Diane pointed out that Formosa “dodged a bullet” when Hurricane Rita turned its course away from the Texas coast two weeks ago, only to self-destruct last week, with an explosion injuring 11 workers.

But not to worry! Anyone still interested in career opportunities at Formosa can take heart. According to Formosa’s corporate website:

Our employees enjoy an intellectually stimulating and professionally rewarding work environment. We encourage a mutually contributory relationship among all staff members in a team-oriented environment.

Meanwhile, in back in reality, here is Diane’s short list of other recent Formosa accidents:

In 1990, the company was fined $244,00 for 54 water-quality violations, then again in 1992, after a ten thousand pound release of hydrochloride gas that sent neighbors and cows bawling into the night, Formosa was fined $330,000 for worker-safety violations. OSHA inspection found that vinyl chloride levels were not monitored, flammable liquids were not handled properly, and general procedure for maintenance and repair were not followed.

In July ’97, two workers were found asphyxiated and floating in a barge of EDC (ethylene dichloride) at the Formosa loading docks. In December ’98, an explosion containing EDC injured 26 workers, rattled windows 35 miles away, and contaminated a back waterway into the bay with levels up to 400 ppm of EDC. In April 2004, Formosa’s plant in Illinois exploded, killing 6 workers and injuring many more.

Interestingly, none of these events were significant enough to make it into Formosa’s autobiography…


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