According to the Ha Tinh People’s Committee, the explosion of a lime kiln dust filter in Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Plant (FHS) on May 30 occurred due to a broken fabric filter.
The accident occurred one day after the firm piloted its first blast furnace, but the explosion ignited outside the blast furnace area.
“There were no fires, no casualties, and no damage to the environment effects,” said the committee.
Formosa representatives said they shut down the kiln immediately after the incident. The kiln does not have anything to do with the factory’s first blast furnace, which is still operating normally. Rather, the kiln is used to create quicklime (calcium oxide) for use in the steel production process.
According to a Formosa report, they are monitoring wastewater, air-quality, and the surrounding area to ensure that no damage occurred to the environment.
Ha Tinh authorities asked Formosa to fix the problem and check its equipment to ensure a safe test run within 15 days. The trial operation of Formosa’s Ha Tinh plant will also be closely supervised to ensure proper waste treatment.
On May 29, Formosa was authorised to test-run its first blast furnace after it passed inspections.
Local authorities are set to continually monitor the furnace, with the initial results of the trial run available within 24 hours. Additionally, waste samples will also be taken every five minutes.
Formosa expects to produce 1.3-1.6 million tonnes of steel between now and the end of 2017 and its second blast furnace is scheduled to become operational early next year.
In April last year, the nearly $10.5-billion Formosa Ha Tinh Steel plant leaked toxic waste that polluted more than 200 kilometres of Vietnam’s coastline, devastating sea life and local economies dependent on fishing and tourism. Four months later, the Taiwanese company owned up to its mistake, offering a public apology and pledging $500 million as compensation for affected fishermen, households, and organisations.
Local authorities announced that the firm had corrected 52 out of the 53 operational faults that led to the environmental disaster.
In related news, the company is expected to implement a dry coking system by 2019 that will replace the current wet coking system, which is cheaper, but creates more debris.