The U.S. subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Corporation has been fined millions of dollars for endangering the public as well as workers at its Texas petrochemical plant.
The U.S. subsidiary of Formosa Plastics has been fined millions of dollars for endangering the health of the public as well as workers at its Texas petrochemical plant.
The plastics company, with headquarters in Taiwan, has agreed to pay $2.85 million in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its petrochemical manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, near Victoria.
The Clean Air Act, enacted in 1963, is the United States’ primary federal air quality law, intended to reduce and control air pollution nationwide. Formosa’s Point Comfort plant is subject to CAA regulations known as the Risk Management Program, put in place to prevent the accidental release of hazardous substances.
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According to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by the Justice Department on Monday, a series of explosions, fires and toxic chemical releases from May 2013 through October 2016 resulted in plant workers being injured with second- and third-degree burns and chlorine inhalation. The incidents led to an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the case by the Justice Department.
“Formosa repeatedly failed to comply with the chemical accident prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act at the Point Comfort plant, repeatedly placing their workers, neighbors and the environment in danger,” Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a statement Monday. “This settlement will ensure Formosa’s compliance with essential regulations intended to protect workers and the community as well as help prevent dangerous chemical releases from occurring in the future.”
As part of the settlement, Formosa will be required to update the risk management program at its Point Comfort facility, including the company’s response and personal protection plans to prevent employee injury. Formosa will also be required to conduct a third-party audit of its risk management practices.
“Formosa Plastics takes any incident at our facilities very seriously,” Ken Mounger, EVP at Formosa said in a Wednesday release. “Following the events in 2013, Formosa supplemented the existing risk management staff with a team of dedicated Health and Safety Professionals. The HSPs work with Formosa’s operating units to help ensure events of this nature do not reoccur.”
In addition, Formosa said it has increased staffing in the process safety management department at the plant.
“We believe that these actions, along with other steps, have greatly improved our overall process safety and risk management programs,” Mounger said.
The current settlement follows Formosa’s $50 million civil settlement with Texas residents in 2019 over the discharge of billions of plastic pellets into Texas waterways from the same plant. About 10 million metric tons of single-use plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year, scientists say, killing or injuring all kinds of sea life.