Sunday, April 24, 2005

Formosa Plastics: One Year Later

On April 23, 2004, an explosion ripped through Formosa Plastics Corp, killing 5 workers. OSHA has fined the company $300,000 and a report from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board is expected this Fall.
ILLIOPOLIS - On the face of it, Bradford Bradshaw would be about the last person you'd expect to be rooting for a new chemical plant in Illiopolis.

On Saturday night, he attended an emotional candlelight service honoring the memory of his five co-workers who died after the Formosa Plastics Corp. plant was hit by a fiery explosion a year ago at 10:40 p.m. April 23.

Bradshaw escaped having his name added to the list of the dead by the merest fraction: burned over 60 percent of his body with his right eye destroyed, he went into kidney and congestive heart failure and was in a coma for 6½ weeks. His wife, Donna, said afterward that his face looked "like a marshmallow after you leave it in the fire too long."

And yet, reflecting back on the 12 months that now separate him from the disaster, Bradshaw, 48, thinks the greater good would be served by having those dozens of well-paying jobs back. He recalls co-workers, many related to each other and who had worked out there all of their lives, and says chemical plant paychecks sustained a lot of families.

"If it's rebuilt and run correctly and safely, then I don't have a problem with it, and I think a lot of people wouldn't have a problem with it," said Bradshaw. "For the sake of the economy and jobs, it would be good to rebuild."