Formosa Plastics propylene explosion

Formosa Plastics Propylene Explosion

Formosa Plastics propylene explosion

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The Formosa Plastics Propylene Explosion was a propylene release and explosion that occurred on October 6, 2005, in the Olefins II Unit at the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort, Texas, USA. The subsequent fire burned for five days.

Formosa Plastics Point Comfort facility

The Point Comfort facility is the largest Formosa Plastics plant in the United States. Opened in 1983, it covers 1,800 acres (7.3 kmĀ²) and employs 1,400 full time employees and 400 contract workers. Among the employees are 120 personnel making up the plant's Emergency Response Team (ERT) whose members are trained in hazardous material emergencies and fire fighting. There are 17 operating units on the plant producing a variety of petroleum and plastic products.

Olefins II Unit

The Olefins II Unit uses furnaces to convert naphtha or natural gas into a hydrocarbon mixture containing methane, ethane, ethylene, propylene, and propane. Distillation columns separate the hydrocarbon mix. Some of the gases (such as propylene) are liquified and sent to storage while others are used to fuel the furnaces or are returned to the feedstock. The Unit is protected from overpressure by pressure relief valves which send gases into a flare system where the excess gases are burned at a distance from the Unit. However, on October 6, 2005, such valves were manually operated and could not be reached by workers in time to prevent the explosions.

The Explosions

The explosions began a little after 3pm on...
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