Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 25, 2019

Contact:  Alex Gutierrez, local fisherman, (409) 443-7299, AlexGH53@yahoo.com
Steve Jones, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 305-3866, sjones@biologicaldiversity.org
Nancy Bui, (512) 844-9417, Justice for Formosa Victims, nancy@vietnameseamerican.org
Travis London, Rise St. James, (225) 264-9527, travislondonsr@yahoo.com      

Formosa Plastics’ Pollution of Texas Waterways Hit by Civil Trial, Protests

VICTORIA, Texas— Fishermen, community leaders and activists spoke out against Formosa Plastics’ pollution of Texas waterways today as a federal civil trial of the company began here. During a kayak tour of waterways surrounding Formosa’s Point Comfort plastics plant on Saturday and a courthouse press conference, the company was criticized for environmental injustices here and around the world.

Formosa faces Clean Water Act fines of up to $184 million in the citizen lawsuit filed by local former shrimper Diane Wilson and San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper. They documented plastic pollution of Cox Creek and Lavaca Bay from Formosa’s plant over the past three years. Texas fined Formosa about $122,000 for the pollution and ordered a cleanup, but large quantities of plastic pellets are still found in the water and along the shoreline (photos and video available upon request).

“Formosa must be held accountable for polluting our waterways with plastic over so many years. This company’s disregard for marine life, fisheries and coastal communities can’t go unpunished,” said Alex Gutierrez, a local oysterman familiar with plastic pollution in Lavaca Bay. “The rampant plastic pollution here is a warning to other communities considering approving these large plastics plants.”

Among the large group of supporters who came for the trial were Louisiana residents fighting Formosa’s plan for a massive plastics plant in St. James Parish and Vietnamese-American groups outraged about Formosa polluting Texas waterways and a 2016 chemical spill from Formosa’s steel plant in Vietnam that poisoned marine life.  

“We urge Formosa to stop dumping pollutants into the Lavaca waterways and rightfully compensate the victims suffering from the toxic disaster in Central Vietnam and to put policies in place to protect life and nature,” said Nancy Bui, head of Justice for Formosa Victims.

Rise St. James, Louisiana Bucket Brigade and other groups from Louisiana strongly oppose Formosa’s decision to build its next ethane cracker plant — which uses fracked natural gas to produce cheap plastic — adjacent to an African American community known as “Cancer Alley” for industrial pollution and associated public health problems. The groups are planning a four-day march through St. James and surrounding parishes starting April 4 to protest Formosa and call for environmental justice.  

“We need to stop Formosa. I do not want them to move into St James or anywhere in Louisiana,” said Travis London from Donaldsonville, La., near Formosa’s proposed plant. “We’ve already got too much pollution here. But now we got a coalition of people from around the world who came here to go against you and say, Formosa, game over.”

London, Bui, and dozens of other activists demonstrated outside the Formosa Plastics plant in Point Comfort, Texas, on Saturday afternoon, chanting and giving speeches.

Formosa and other petrochemical companies plan to increase plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade, proposing dozens of new plastic plants along the Gulf Coast and in the Rust Belt. That increase is driven by an oversupply of fracked natural gas, the feedstock for ethane cracker and other plastic-producing plants.

“It’s disgusting to see how much Formosa Plastics has polluted Texas waterways that flow in to the Gulf of Mexico. Plastic pollution ends up in our oceans, our seafood and ourselves,” said Steve Jones with the Center for Biological Diversity, which participated in this weekend’s actions here. “We need to break the cycle of turning fracked natural gas into throwaway plastics if we’re going to address climate change and the ocean plastic pollution crisis.”

Plastic waste in waterways and oceans doesn’t break down for decades, attaching itself to environmental toxins as it travels throughout the food web, often infesting seafood.

Images and video from today’s press conference and this weekend’s actions available upon request to sjones@biologicaldiversity.org.

Formosa Plastics Plant

Images of plastic pellets in Texas waterways available for media use. Images and video from today’s press conference and this weekend’s actions available upon request to sjones@biologicaldiversity.org.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

www.biologicaldiversity.org

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