Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 25, 2018

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (510) 844-7108, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

Texas Commission Advances World's Largest Plastics Plant

Wastewater Permit Issued Despite Concerns About Exceeding Pollution Standards

AUSTIN, Texas— The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved a wastewater permit today for the world’s largest plastics plant. The proposed facility near Gregory, Texas, funded by ExxonMobil and the Saudi Arabian government, would discharge more than 13 million gallons a day of polluted wastewater into Corpus Christi Bay.

The Center for Biological Diversity, on behalf of thousands of its Texas members, had petitioned the Commission to reject the permit, noting that it violates the Clean Water Act and threatens to exceed water quality standards. The permit allows the daily discharge of more than 8,000 pounds of suspended solids, including plastic bits, and 1,000 pounds of oil and grease.   

“This project is horrible on so many levels. Polluting beautiful Corpus Christi Bay just to create more throwaway plastic would be a travesty,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director with the Center. “Plastic and pollutants would flow through the bay and out into the Gulf of Mexico, feeding the global plastic pollution crisis. We need to reduce the flow of plastics into our oceans, not ramp it up.” 

The plant, which would receive more than $1 billion in state tax breaks, would “crack” the ethane in natural gas to produce almost 2 million tons of ethylene and polyethylene annually. Polyethylene pellets are the basic building blocks of plastic products. The Texas plant is part of a multibillion-dollar push by the fossil fuel industry to increase global plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade.

That increased plastic production is being driven by an oversupply of fracked natural gas in the United States. Ocean plastic pollution has become so pervasive that it is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Plastic attracts and absorbs toxic chemicals from the marine environment.

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. Large whales are often found with bellies full of plastic after they die. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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