Formosa accepts OSHA penalty for September flash fire

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

April 24, 2014 at 4 p.m.
Updated April 23, 2014 at 11:24 p.m.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a citation categorized as serious to Formosa Plastics Corp. for the Sept. 13 flash fire that injured five men.

The Point Comfort plastic resins and petrochemicals plant has accepted the $7,000 penalty, which was issued Feb. 25.

Formosa Plastics Corp. Texas did not contest OSHA's citation, and the assessment has been paid, Bill Harvey, Formosa spokesman, wrote in an email.

The citation and penalty were imposed because Formosa did not issue a hot work permit for hot work operations conducted on or near a covered process, according to an email from Diana Petterson, OSHA public affairs representative.

Employees did not have the proper permit when they used an electric chain saw and an electric ripsaw to cut out a polymer plug in a vessel in the high-density polyethylene unit No. 2, according to the citation.

Hydrocarbons or other flammable gases ignited during the removal of the plug. Use of the equipment could have caused sparks, which could have ignited the contents of the vessel, according to an email message from OSHA.

The federal agency and Formosa conducted independent investigations of the incident and came up with the same conclusion, Harvey wrote.

Formosa has identified and imposed all necessary corrective actions to prevent a reoccurrence of this incident, Harvey added.

Formosa reports annual sales of more than $74 billion, according to the company's website.



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