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FPG gas explosion triggered by LPG leak: Labor ministry

2019/04/08 18:27:33

Photo courtesy of a member of the public

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) A preliminary report into a Sunday gas explosion at a Formosa Plastic Group (FPG) plant in Yunlin County found that the incident was triggered by a leak of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) due to a corroded pipeline, the Ministry of Labor Affairs (MOL) said Monday.

The explosion occurred at a petrochemical plant run by Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp., an FPG subsidiary, in the FPG Mailiao No. 6 Naphtha Cracker complex in Yunlin County, causing a fire but no casualties, according to a FPG executive.

Along with conducting a thorough investigation of the incident, the MOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said it will increase the frequency of inspections at the plant, adding that the incident is obvious proof that plant management took occupational health and safety standards lightly.

If any violations are found during the inspections, OSHA said, the operations at the plant will be suspended and FPG management will be fined.

OSHA also urged all petrochemical operators to prevent future occurrences of similar incidents by implementing safety management and upgrading pipeline equipment inspection standards.

Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp. Vice Chairman Hong Fu-yuan (洪福源) said the leaking pipeline was installed on a high tower that had not been detected by inspectors and which led to the incident.

Hong said that FPG will conduct a comprehensive inspection of its wiring systems and pipelines within a month.

While urging the FPG to take full responsibility, Yunlin Magistrate Chang Li-shan (張麗善) announced at a press conference that same day that an investigation and supervisory team had been assembled to examine the incident.

As to whether the incident has affected air quality in the vicinity, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official Chang Shuenn-chin (張順欽) said local air quality monitoring stations did not detect any significant changes.

The explosion and ensuing fire was quickly brought under control with no injuries, according to initial reports, said Chen Wen-yang (陳文仰), an executive at FPG's Mailiao management division.

The Yunlin County government suspended operations at the affected factories until the full investigation report is released and slapped a fine of NT$5 million (US$162,000) on the plant in accordance with the Air Pollution Control Act.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Yeh Tzu-kang, Pan Chih-yi and Chung Yu-chen)
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