Formosa Plastics Corporation Explosion

Illiopolis, IL - Friday, April 23rd, 2004

Click here to see video of the investigation results

Documents and other information on the Illiopolis Formosa Plant

Story from The Sentinel - Illiopolis newspaper

 The explosion Friday night at the Illiopolis Formosa Chemical Plant was heard and felt for many miles around. Illiopolis, the small town with a big heart, feels broken. Most residents know someone who was there at the time, a worker who could have been there or even someone who has worked there before. And it is still commonplace to hear long time residents saying “Borden’s blew up” referring to former owner Borden Chemicals and Plastics. Some residents still jump when they hear a loud noise, and many still wonder how it can be safe to live here, farm here, or even breathe the air and drink the water here.

 Eighteen employees were at the plant at the time of the explosion. The four workers killed in the blast were Joseph Machalek, Larry Graves, and Linda Hancock, all of Decatur, and Glenn Lyman, of Cornland. As of Tuesday evening, Randy Hancock and Bradford Bradshaw, both of Decatur, were in critical condition at Memorial Medical Center, and Chris Havener of Decatur was in serious condition.

 Almost thirty fire departments from all around, most of them volunteer responded to the call for assistance. The Illinois State Police; Sangamon County sheriff's office, other area law enforcement, several ambulance companies, Illinois Department of Transportation, emergency services and disaster agency, coroner's office, county rescue squad, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Transportation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Environmental Agency, Center for Toxicology and Environmental Heath, U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board American Red Cross, Salvation Army were among agencies involved in the coordinated efforts throughout the weekend.

 The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined. But officials from several agencies say it will be.

 Formosa company officials say the plant will be rebuilt and workers will continue to be paid and receive benefits while the plant is idle.

 At a community meeting held Tuesday evening in the school gym attended by several-hundred area residents, the mood was cautious. Following a roaring applause thank you to the emergency personnel, there was a prayer and a moment of silence for the Formosa casualties and their families. Then, Mayor Brickey handed off the microphone to those on the panel to introduce themselves and tell about their involvement.

 When the floor was opened to the audience, many asked nearly the same questions, trying to be reassured that the air & water are really safe and that the plant will be safe when it opens back up. Others shared things they had seen or heard about the plant that concerned them. Representatives from Formosa and federal, state and county health and safety agencies explained what they could and agreed to keep the community informed of new developments.

 Residents asked for more community meetings to be held, and were told that they indeed would be. When they become available, some reports will be set up at the Illiopolis Public Library for residents to read and / or copy. Also, some of the information may be made available on the website. 

 Any area residents with questions or concerns of any kind are encouraged to call Formosa’s public information number 486-6500.  

 Other public announcements made at this meeting included:

 Friday, April 30, a blood drive will be held in the Illiopolis school cafeteria. Type O positive and O negative blood are especially needed to help maintain the heavy usage by the injured workers. 

 Sunday, May 2, there will be a community interdenominational memorial service for the Formosa workers held at the Illiopolis United Methodist Church.

(Randy Hancock died days later bringing the total to five killed.   This line was added for website)

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