The Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau yesterday fined Formosa Plastics Corp NT$450,000 after a tanker transporting vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at its factory in Linyuan District (林園) caught fire.
The fire was put out two minutes after it started at about 1:08am.
The company was fined for breaching the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法), the bureau said.
Photo: Chen Wen-chan, Taipei Times
The tanker originated from Formosa Plastics’ plant in Renwu District (仁武) and was unloading VCM into a storage tank when the fire occurred, the bureau said.
There was likely a leak due to a loose safety valve, causing VCM to drip from the opening and explode when it came into contact with a heat source, the bureau said.
Formosa Plastics said the driver and another worker heard a click and quickly vacated the area when they saw white smoke, thinking it might have been caused by a VCM leak.
The clicking sound could have been the safety valve coming loose, the company said.
The bureau and the Environmental Protection Administration’s emergency technical group said they monitored the air from the time of the blast until 5am, but did not detect any significant pollution.
The Linyuan plant was scheduled to start annual maintenance on Dec. 2, but brought it forward to yesterday after the blast.
The plant cannot restart operations until it has passed a municipal safety assessment, the bureau said.
The company said it has ample inventories of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and VCM and the plant’s unexpected early maintenance would not affect its production target.
The company apologized to local residents who might have been concerned about the fire.
Additional reporting by CNA
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