Safety issues haunt Formosa

By Malini Hariharan

Formosa Plastics Group’s (FPG) problems appear to be escalating with the Taiwanese government ordering six plants to be shut from 1 June on safety concerns.

Local news reports state that the plants will have to remain closed until the Yunlin county government and the Council of Labour Affairs are convinced that safety measures have been adequately improved.

This move by the government comes after a small fire at affiliate Formosa Petrochemicals Co’s No1 cracker on 12 May. The fire forced the shutdown of the 700,000 tonnes/year cracker and a number of downstream units including monethylene glycol (MEG) plants operated by Nan Ya Plastics. The cracker has yet to restart.

News reports state that the government’s order late last week came as a surprise for the company. A full list of the the six plants is not yet available but it includes a vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant, and Nan Ya’s MEG, and bisphenol A plants.

Concerns about safety at the Mailiao site have been mounting since last year when there were two accidents in less then a month. Formosa will have to work hard in the coming weeks to assure government officials and the local population about its safety standards.

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