Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2018

Contact: Emily Jeffers, (510) 844-7109,

Lawsuits Launched to Prevent L.A. Plastic Makers From Polluting Waterways

LOS ANGELES— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed notices of intent to sue three plastics manufacturers in the Los Angeles region for polluting waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Monitoring records indicate that discharges from the plastic facilities’ storm water runoff are exceeding pollution limits. Today’s notices state that the companies also have inadequate management plans and pollution control technologies to prevent water pollution, including measures that could prevent plastic pellet pollution.

“Plastics increasingly litter our oceans and coastlines, harming wildlife. There’s a plastic pollution crisis, and it needs to be stopped at the source,” said Emily Jeffers, a staff attorney with the Center. “We intend to hold these companies accountable and prevent plastic from polluting the Los Angeles River, the Dominguez Channel and the Pacific Ocean.”

The three companies — Pelican Products Inc., Rehrig Pacific Company, and Barnes Plastic Inc. — all use plastic to make products such as flashlights, cell phone covers, crates and coolers. Storm water and other discharge from the facilities enters the Los Angeles River (Rehrig) and Dominguez Channel (Pelican and Barnes) and then flows to sea. 

A 2011 study reported 30 metric tons of plastic pollution in the Los Angeles basin waterways over 72 hours, and it noted that plastic pellets are the most abundant debris impacting the region’s beaches. Plastic pollution is so pervasive that it is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.

EPA and the California State Water Board have cited concerns about the environmental impacts of fugitive plastic pellets in storm water. Little bits of plastic get mistaken for food and eaten by fish, sea turtles, birds and other wildlife. These animals often choke on the items, or experience feelings of fullness and then starve to death.

Plastic also attracts and absorbs toxic chemicals from the marine environment, increasing the hazards to any animal that eats them, including those higher on the food chain, including humans. Other animals become entangled in plastic garbage and drown.

Marine plastic pollution has affected at least 267 species, including 86 percent of sea turtle species and 43 percent of marine mammal species. Increasingly, there are reports of dead whales found with bellies full of plastic.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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