Town waiting to rebuild 10 years after explosion

By Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 04/24 2014 01:27PM

Updated 04/24 2014 01:31PM

ILLIOPOLIS -- It's hard to believe but it's been ten years since the explosion at the Formosa Plant. As WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs finds out, the community is still rebuilding.

"Just us knowing some people that had lost their family members there, it was a big tragedy."

The Formosa plastic plant exploded ten years ago, leaving the town devastated. Tonia Etter, a 20-year resident, says she remembers it like it was yesterday.

"We were in the living room. We'd just gotten back home from a father-daughter dance. Brought everybody back home when it exploded."

Etter says the blast was felt miles away.

"A friend of ours in Taylorville had called because they felt vibrations from the explosion. The vibrations in the windows."

In the devastation, five workers lost their lives and hundreds more lost their jobs and a community lost its hope.

"It is kind of depressing when you go past there and you don't see anything there anymore. It's just a big empty space."

But now that smoke has cleared, residents like Etter say they hope to see something quickly be built in place of the plant.

"I like to see a kind of big plant out there."

The village mayor agrees.

"Plenty of water there, highway access and some rail access. So, we're hoping for something big to come out there eventually."

The last couple of buildings were recently demolished leaving a much more vacant lot. Mayor Rogers says he hopes a business will move in and bring jobs with it.

"Something that would help benefit the town, the area with jobs. That's the main thing."

After an investigation, federal officials determined a worker opened a valve on a high-temperature reactor causing the explosion. The village and Formosa are still waiting on approval from the EPA to rebuild.

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