Explosion, fire at Formosa Plastics refinery injures 3, causes pollution spike

Three people were injured after an explosion and fire at the Formosa Plastics Mialiao No. 6 refinery in Yunlin County this morning, and the company will be fined for breaches of the Air Pollution Control law.

Twenty-three fire trucks and 76 personnel were dispatched from nearby fire stations after reports of the explosion and blaze at around 9:00 am.

Yunlin County Fire Department Chief Lin Wen-shan said that the primary combustion material consisted of heavy oil and hydrogen, burning an around of around 2,000 square meters. The fire was brought under control at around 10:00 am, but remnants of the fire were still being doused at 1:00 pm.

Yunlin County Magistrate Zhang Li-shan expressed anger at the incident, pointing out that it had been little more than a year since the last explosion at the plant. See previous story: Chemical plant explosion rocks southern Taiwan, heard more than 30 kilometers away.

A stop work order was issued, and a fine of NT$5 million was imposed for the pollution incident.

Thick black smoke rose into the sky and the brunt of pollution affected Dacheng Township in Changhua County. PM 10 particulate pollution was measured at more than 300 micrograms per cubic meter. The pollution levels were 2.4 times higher than the daily average.

The Environmental Protection Agency immediately dispatched mobile air monitoring vehicles to the area to monitor pollution levels and warned vulnerable members of the public to wear personal protective masks when going outdoors.

A mobile air quality monitoring vehicle deployed in Changhua County. Picture: EPA.

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