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Safety System Failed in Illiopolis, Ill. Explosion

By IL Public Radio / KWMU

Illiopolis, Ill. – The government's investigation of last year's fatal explosion at a chemical plant near Springfield, Ill. has determined a safety system malfunctioned.

But it could be another year before a final report is complete.

A year after federal investigators began collecting evidence from the site of the Formosa Plastics Plant explosion in Illiopolis, they've determined a safety system malfunctioned.

The blast killed 5 people and forced a community evacuation.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board has found the "water deluge system" - that was designed to automatically flood the area with water if the highly flammable vinyl choride was released - failed to operate.

Investigators say they are still trying to determine how vinyl chloride was ignited, whether the safety systems were adequate, and how an explosion like this one could be prevented in the future.

Company spokesperson Rob Thibault says they are waiting on the final report that's expected within the year. The company conducted its own investigation and said the tragedy was due to human error. It didn't release the report.

There are only 35 employees at the central Illinois facility, down from 133 before the explosion happened a year ago.

The company has applied for permits to demolish the existing structure now that all the evidence has been collected and is waiting on permission from the Illinois EPA.