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June 27, 2017

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Another fire breaks out at FPG plant

Another fire broke out yesterday at petrochemical complex run by the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) in Mailiao, Yunlin County, the eighth in the past year at the same industrial zone.

The group made an open apology but stressed the brief blaze was caused by alkymer leakage and was quickly put out, inflicting no harm to anyone and posing no other threats.

FPG executives reported the small fire at the No. 3 refinery plant at 4:31 p.m.

Firefighters put out the blaze by 4:50 p.m.

FPG management said that the blaze started during the process of transporting alkymer, which is an element of gasoline and is used to make petroleum products.

Certain amount of alkymer ended up in a ditch at the plant because of the leak. Water and chemical foams were immediately used to contain and snuff out the fire, said FPG executives.

Only a small section of the ditch was affected by the small blaze.

The executives said that staff members of all plants at the complex have maintained maximum security to prevent any possible industrial hazards, including fires.

This was the reason why the fire was put out so soon without affecting any manufacturing equipment.

Residents in the Mailiao area were alarmed by the new fire, expressing shock and concern over new industrial hazards and environmental contamination.

But FPG executives said residents should not panic, since alkymer is a part of gasoline but not toxic. The chemical will not release any toxic substance after burning, they explained.

They said the incident took place when the manufacturing and processing operations at the petrochemical complex were temporarily closed for inspection and equipment maintenance.

They said the FPG will cooperate with firefighters to determine the cause of the fire.

FPG and its petrochemical complex in Yunlin have been placed under unprecedented public scrutiny after seven other fires were reported at the petrochemical complex over the past year.

Protests from residents and the Yunlin Provincial Government in southwestern Taiwan prompted the Ministry of Economic Affairs to temporarily shut down the facilities on safety concerns.

The government has also asked FPG to carry out a phased suspension of operations at its production facilities in the compound over a one-year period.

Manufacturing operations cannot resume before FPG completes a safety overhaul and passes examination by a panel organized the ministry.

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