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Accident Report Detail

 
Vinyl Chloride Monomer Release from a Railroad Tank Car and Fire, Formosa Plastics Corporation Plant

Executive Summary

At 3:45 a.m., on July 30, 1983, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) under pressure escaped from a railroad tank car at the loading facility within the Formosa Plastics Corporation chemical manufacturing plant at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The released VCM was ignited by an undetermined source, and a large billowing fire ensued. An adjacent tank car containing VCM was involved in the fire but did not rupture violently. Two persons were injured seriously, two tank cars were destroyed, three tank cars were damaged moderately, and the loading facility was damaged extensively. Damage was estimated to be $1 million.


Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the sudden release and ignition of vinyl chloride monomer from a loaded tank car was a plant employee's failure to close the tank car liquid valves and purge the pressurized vapor return and loading hoses before disconnecting them, and the presence of one or more sources of ignition at the loading rack. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the failure of the Formosa Plastics Corporation to maintain safe facilities for the loading of vinyl chloride monomer and to provide written procedures, adequate training, and supervision for its loading personnel. Also contributing to the cause of the accident were the improperly seated excess flow valves in the tank car.


Accident Location: Baton Rouge , LA    
Accident Date: 7/30/1983
Accident ID: DCA83AZ006

Date Adopted: 5/14/1985
NTSB Number: RAR-85-08
NTIS Number: PB85-916308

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