October 6, 2005

Explosion reported at Texas plastics plant

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Explosions and fire damaged a plastics
plant on the central Texas coast on Thursday, and a spokesman
for the company it was unknown whether there were any injuries.

State officials said three explosions were reported heard
at Formosa Plastics Corp.'s complex in Port Comfort, Texas, and
it was not known whether chemicals had been released as a
result of the blast. Area residents were asked to stay indoors
as a precaution.

Point Comfort is on the central Texas coast, about halfway
between Corpus Christi and Galveston.

In an interview with a Houston television station, Formosa
spokesman Rob Thibault confirmed an explosion occurred around
3:30 p.m. CDT (2030 GMT).

"We don't know how large, and we don't know if there are
any injuries yet," Thibault said.

Flaring and columns of black smoke were visible on the
horizon, according to video images. The plumes were visible
from Victoria, 30 miles inland.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the
blast occurred at the No. 2 olefins unit. The agency was
sending a team to investigate environmental impact, spokeswoman
Andrea Morrow said.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the Occupational Health
and Safety Administration was investigating. Federal officials
had no initial casualty reports, spokeswoman Diana Patterson

Local officials said the plant was trying to perform an
emergency shutdown of the entire facility.

Area roads, including the causeway over neighboring Lavaca
Bay, were closed except for emergency personnel.

The plant employs about 1,100 people, with about 400 to 500
on site at any given time, Thibault said.