Formosa Plastics sued by workers hurt in plant explosion

RP news wires, Noria Corporation

Victims of the explosions and fires that ripped through the Formosa Plastics plastic resins and petrochemical manufacturing plant at Point Comfort, Texas, on October 6, 2005 filed suit in the County Court of Law, Calhoun County, Texas on December 1, 2006.


The law firms of Christian, Smith & Jewell, and D. Miller & Associates, PLLC of Houston, Texas, and Marek, Griffin & Knaupp, LLP of Victoria, Texas, represent the plaintiffs.


The petition alleges Formosa failed to provide appropriate safety equipment and enforce adequate safety programs; it allowed vehicles to travel through the plant without specific routes, without restrictions and without regard to protruding piping filled with volatile gases.


"The lack of safety was a constant weight on the minds of Formosa employees and their families," said attorney Wes Christian, "The American worker should not be asked to assume unnecessary risks that put their lives in danger. We believe it's wrong, and at the very least, irresponsible."


According to the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), 16 people were injured when a forklift snagged a pipe, setting off a blast which would burn for days at the Olefins II Unit of the Formosa Drive Plant, filling the air with toxic matter and creating a further hazard to the health of workers and people in the environs.


"OSHA has inspected Formosa Plastics numerous times for many of the same violations," said John Giefer, OSHA's area director in Corpus Christi. "If the company had followed OSHA standards, it is possible that the injuries sustained by these workers could have been avoided."


These comments were made in an OSHA news release issued in April, 2006 titled "OSHA Fines Formosa Plastics Corp. $148,000 for Alleged Safety and Health Violations."


CSB had issued several formal recommendations: "Formosa Plastics Corp. USA, the Point Comfort plant, was urged to revise its policies and procedures for analyzing hazards, to include vehicle impact dangers, fireproofing of structural steel and mechanisms for controlling chemical releases such as remotely controlled isolation valves."

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