Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 12, 2019

Contact: Lauren Packard, (510) 844-7103,

Lawsuit Seeks U.S. Records on Huge Plastics Plant in Louisiana's Cancer Alley

ST. JAMES PARISH, La.— The Center for Biological Diversity today sued the Trump administration for refusing to release public records related to an enormous plastics plant proposed along the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, La. The area is known as “Cancer Alley” for the high cancer rates among residents.

Formosa Plastics, the Taiwan-based company behind the project, has a long and well-documented history of pollution in Baton Rouge, Texas, Taiwan and Vietnam. The project would emit more than 26 million tons of pollutants per year.

“Formosa’s plant would bring more cancer-causing chemicals to Cancer Alley and more plastic trash into our oceans and landfills,” said Lauren Packard, an attorney at the Center. “Residents deserve to know whether and how the company plans to reduce this toxic project’s many environmental harms. The Trump administration can’t be allowed to hide the risks of this polluting plant.”

Today’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in D.C., seeks records from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers related to Formosa’s Clean Water Act permit application. The Center requested the application and agency communications related to it under the Freedom of Information Act in September 2018 and December 2018, respectively. The Corps has yet to fully comply.

The Formosa plant would turn the byproducts of natural gas extraction into materials for single-use plastic packaging and products. The project is part of the fossil fuel industry’s plan to increase plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade, a plan driven by the oversupply of fracked natural gas.

The company’s Clean Water Act permit application is still pending, as are state air and water pollution permit applications. The plant has already secured local approval and a coastal use permit from the state of Louisiana.

The construction of the plant would destroy more than 100 acres of wetlands, making flooding worse and increasing the risk of a chemical spill during a natural disaster. As a greenhouse gas emitter, the plant would also contribute to climate change, increasing the likelihood of devastating hurricanes. 

“This project would be a menace to people and wildlife,” Packard said. “It’ll pollute local air and water, churn out throwaway plastics that choke turtles and birds, and further enable fracking’s immense harm to our climate.”

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.

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