Contaminants released in Formosa fire

Dec. 22, 2017 at 9:12 p.m.
Updated Dec. 23, 2017 at 6:50 a.m.

Flames are visible from Gate 3 at the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort. The fire ignited about 3 a.m. Friday. Contract workers and nonessential employees were instructed not to report to work.

Flames are visible from Gate 3 at the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort. The fire ignited about 3 a.m. Friday. Contract workers and nonessential employees were instructed not to report to work.   Evan Lewis for The Victoria Advocate

POINT COMFORT - No one was injured early Friday morning when a fire broke out at the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort.

A "process upset" in the Olefins I production unit produced a large initial flame about 3 a.m. Friday.

The unit was shut down, an alarm was sounded and the in-plant emergency response team secured the scene, Formosa spokesman Bill Harvey wrote in a statement Friday afternoon.

"The affected area has been isolated and depressurized to both allow removal of hydrocarbon inventory and to ensure that the affected area would not receive additional inventory," Harvey wrote.

Harvey had tweeted earlier that nonessential employees and contract workers should not report to Formosa on Friday.

He wrote in his statement that this was done as a precaution.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, one of the agencies that regulates the plastic resin and chemical company, will investigate and monitor the air quality, TCEQ Spokesman Andrew Keese said.

Formosa reported to TCEQ that it emitted more than a dozen contaminants into the air Friday as a result of the upset.

Among the contaminants emitted were about 60 pounds of benzene and more than 460 pounds of butadiene, both of which cause cancer, and more than 8,660 pounds of carbon monoxide.

These numbers are estimates.

Formosa has two weeks to submit a final report to the agency.


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