Washington, DC, April 24, 2004 - Investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board are headed to the scene of Friday night's explosions at the Formosa Plastics polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility in Illiopolis, Illinois, near Springfield, which reportedly killed at least two workers, left others missing, and destroyed most of the plant. The explosions and fire caused a large public evacuation, cut power to local communities, and closed an interstate highway, according to media reports.
CSB Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt will accompany the CSB investigation team and serve as the principal spokesperson. Chairman Merritt said: "This event had a devastating impact on workers and the public. Our team will begin an immediate investigation to determine the circumstances and will provide additional information as it becomes available." CSB personnel are expected to arrive at the site this afternoon and evening.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems. Typically, the investigations involve extensive witness interviews, examination of physical evidence, and chemical and forensic testing.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. The Board designates formal responses to its recommendations as acceptable or unacceptable, open or closed. Further information about the CSB is available from www.csb.gov. For more information on this news release, contact Sandy Gilmour 202-251-5496 en route to Illinois or Dr. Daniel Horowitz 202-441-6074 at CSB headquarters in Washington, DC.