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Formosa Plastics Faces $57M Lawsuit for Leaking Plastic Pellets into Bays

Another manufacturer faces charges for discharging plastic pellets into a local waterway. Formosa Plastics is being sued by the nonprofit Texas RioGrande Legal Aid on behalf of the San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper for allowing pellets from its plastics manufacturing process to escape into bayside creeks and bayous and eventually into Lavaca Bay and other bays in the area. The plant is located in Point Comfort, TX, across the bay from Port Lavaca.

The lawsuit says that the pellets pose a risk for the tourism and commercial fishing industries that depend on a healthy bay, and contends that Formosa  should pay up to $104,828 for every day of pellet discharge, which could equal more than $57 million. RioGrande Legal Aid claims Formosa has violated the federal Clean Water Act continuously for over 548 days.

The complaint stated that when determining penalties, the Court is required under the Clean Water Act to take a number of factors into consideration, including “Formosa’s history of repeated violations” and “the economic impact of the penalty on a company like Formosa USA with $1.36 billion in annual net income before taxes in 2016.” A representative for the San Antonio Bay Waterkeeper claims that Texas state environmental regulators routinely underestimate the deterrent value of penalties.

Similar Plastic Pellet Problems…

Last month, two California-based plastic product manufacturers agreed to pay penalties for similar issues. Western States Packaging and Direct Pack, Inc., reached an agreement with the EPA to pay $25,000 and $42,900, respectively, for failing to operate with the proper stormwater permit, resulting in plastic pellets being washed into the Tujunga Wash and ultimately into the Los Angeles River.

The violations included operating without the proper wastewater and stormwater permits, not using proper capture devices, not having the necessary systems that would stop plastic materials from entering local waterways, and improper storage of chemicals and industrial wastes.


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