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Illinois plant where 5 died almost demolished

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT
(T.J. Salsman)
The smoldering remains from an explosion April 23 at the Formosa Chemical Plant in Illiopolis that killed five people. The former plastics plant in central Illinois is now all but demolished and cleaned up according to Illinois state environmental regulators. (AP file Photo)

ILLIOPOLIS – A former plastics plant in central Illinois where a 2004 explosion killed five people is now all but demolished and cleaned up, Illinois state environmental regulators said.

The explosion at the Formosa Plastics plant in Illiopolis happened April 23, 2004. Federal safety officials ruled a worker mistakenly opened a valve on a high-temperature reactor. The small town is 25 miles east of Springfield.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Kim Biggs told The State Journal-Register in Springfield that a couple of buildings still need to be removed and the soil cleanup isn’t quite finished. The Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies have monitored cleanup.

The company will consider the site’s future once the cleanup is complete, Formosa spokesman Steve Rice said. The plant once employed almost 140 people.

Now Village President Sam Rogers said it’s a reminder of tragedy.

“It’s a constant reminder of what happened, and it’s an eyesore,” Rogers said. “We’ll be glad to see it gone.”

Local officials are pitching the site for other uses.

“It’s a fine location,” said Rogers. “It has rail, highway and plenty of water. Hopefully, we’ll get something in there and get more jobs.”

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