Taipei, Nov. 7 (CNA) The Kaohsiung City government said Thursday it will fine Formosa Plastics Corp. NT$450,000 (US$14,818) over a chemical leak and explosion that occurred at the company's Linyuan plant earlier in the day.
According to the city's Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB), a tanker truck was unloading vinyl chloride at the plant around 1 a.m. Thursday when a safety valve malfunctioned, causing the chemical to leak onto the hot metal of the truck.
The highly flammable substance exploded, but the resulting fire was quickly brought under control, and there were no injuries, the EPB said.
City and federal authorities conducted an environmental assessment shortly after the explosion and determined that there was no risk to the residents of the area, the EPB said.
Later in the day, EPB investigators decided that Formosa Plastics should be fined NT$450,000 over the leak of the toxic chemicals, which was in violation of the Air Pollution Control Act, the bureau said.
In a statement Thursday, Formosa Plastics said its vinyl chloride processing facilities had been scheduled for annual maintenance beginning on Friday, but in light of the incident, the work would begin immediately.
Vinyl chloride is used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a plastic substance with a wide range of domestic and industrial applications. Though typically transported as a compressed liquid, it appears as a gas at room temperature and is highly flammable.
Thursday's incident highlighted the issue of industrial safety, following two other explosions at Taiwanese petrochemical plants this year.
In February, an explosion at a Tasco Chemical Corp. facility, also in Linyuan District, injured four workers and resulted in temporary suspension of the factory's operations.
Two months later, Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corp. was fined NT$500,000 over an explosion at its plant in Yunlin County.