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Four Killed in Illinois Plastic Plant Explosion

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
April 26, 2004

An explosion at the Formosa Plastics Plant in the central Illinois town of Illiopolis, killed four workers and injured 6 others, some critically. The blast was so strong that over a thousand residents were forced to evacuate their homes.

Workers were mixing vinyl chloride and vinyl acetate when an explosion occurred, followed by one or two subsequent blasts, Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson said. Eighteen workers were in the plant at the time.

50 to 75 percent of the plant was demolished by the explosion. The impact could be felt over a mile away.

The explosions occurred at about 10:45 p.m. Friday evening , said Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson. The cause of the explosions was unclear.

"I'm not a war veteran, but that is the loudest explosion I've ever heard in my life," said Illiopolis Mayor Allen Brickey, who lives less than two miles from the plant.

A 20-mile section of Interstate 72 was closed for about six hours after the explosion, said Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Dozens of firefighters Saturday night were still working to put out fires at the plant. Officials said they didn't expect the fires to be out until Sunday.

The Formosa Plastic plant, with about 135 workers, manufactures polyvinyl chloride used in PVC pipe and other materials for construction, medical supplies and automotive parts.


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