Stop Formosa Plastics
St. James parish residents, led by the community led group Rise St. James, is are fighting the construction of a multi-billion dollar facility known as a cracker plant proposed for construction.
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As part of the fossil fuel industry’s push to increase North American plastic production by 35 percent by 2025(1), Formosa Plastics is planning to build a massive petrochemical industrial complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana.
The Taiwanese company wants to build two “crackers” that turn the ethane from fracked natural gas into nurdles, the raw material used to create plastic water bottles, grocery bags, and other throwaway plastic products. Yet the company will not pay billions in taxes that would otherwise fund public services, and Formosa Plastics has for years been violating the law - right here in Louisiana.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The proposed facility includes two ethane crackers and associated petrochemical facilities planned for the Northwestern St. James Parish along the Mississippi River and Highway 3127, adjacent to two existing chemical plants.
ST JAMES RESIDENTS WON'T GET THE JOBS
Project boosters state openly that employees will come from Lafayette and Mississippi.(2) There are already plans to build housing for temporary workers who will drive from out of state for the construction jobs.(3) St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel clearly implied that local residents are not “job ready” for positions at the Formosa facility.(4)
FORMOSA IS A FLOOD RISK
Formosa would pour concrete onto land that is currently sugar cane fields, eliminating an important drainage area and creating run off for nearby homes, churches, and businesses.
The facility would be located in a hurricane-prone area. Formosa lacks safety measures to prevent the types of toxic chemical releases, fires, and explosions that our region sees far too often, including during Hurricane Harvey.(5)
Formosa would emit nearly 14 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, worsening climate change that drives sea level rise and extreme storms for Louisiana and other communities.(6)
FORMOSA DODGES TAXES & DRAINS THE PARISH BUDGET
Formosa Plastics has received $35.5 million in tax relief from Louisiana since 2008(7), yet the jobs created by this project will largely go to construction workers from out of state. This proposed plant in St. James will receive an additional $1.5 billion in tax credits, much of which would otherwise go to fund much-needed public services in St. James Parish, like schools and hospitals.(8)
The proposed plant is part of an international boom in new plastics production(9), which will result in massively increased costs to local budgets through the costs of managing unnecessary waste. Formosa will not pay any of those costs, which will instead be shouldered by local taxpayers.
According to its own permit applications, Formosa would operate 24/7, emitting over 26 million tons every year of cancer-causing compounds, particulates, and nitrogen oxides(10) that cause respiratory problems.
FORMOSA BREAKS THE LAW
The Formosa Plastics Plant in Baton Rouge has been in violation of the Clean Air Act every quarter since 2009 and in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act every quarter since 2004. (11)
Formosa has racked up $14.6 million in federal and state fines since 2000. (12)
In 2013, Formosa was sued by community organizations for violating the Clean Water Act by illegally discharging plastic pellets from its ethane cracker in Fort Comfort, Texas. (13)
Formosa was fined in 2002 for violating Louisiana environmental laws at a petrochemical plant for lack of emissions monitoring and improper disposal of wastewater from the facility. (14)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 6 of 7 Formosa Plastics facilities have current violations of clean air, water, or hazardous waste protections, two identified as “significant violations.” (15)
Environmental enforcement and oversight are declining under the current U.S. EPA, so the full extent of violations or problems at such facilities is unknown and likely to go unchecked. (16)
PLASTIC POLLUTION IS A MAJOR THREAT TO HUMAN & GULF SEAFOOD
Formosa’s proposal will create more unneeded plastic, which is the most common type of marine pollution. Unless we stop building plants like the proposed Formosa project, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the world’s oceans by 2050.(17)
Nearly 300 marine species have been harmed by ingesting plastic (18) that travels throughout the ocean food chain - including into the fish caught and sold in Louisiana.
Microplastic pollution in the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico is a growing problem.(19) Ocean plastic pollution has been documented in seafood essential to Louisiana’s economy and culture, such as clams, oysters, and fish. (20)
Recycling will not solve the plastic pollution problem in the world’s oceans: Despite years of advertising and infrastructure development, Louisiana’s recycling rate is only 6% - a drop from previous years.(21) Nationally, only 9% of plastics are recycled - a rate which is also falling.(22)
FORMOSA'S EMISSIONS ALREADY HARM LOUISIANA RESIDENTS
For more than 10 years, the Baton Rouge Formosa Plastics Plant has emitted into the air (23):
Chlorine - average of 57,500 lbs per year Low-level exposure in air will cause eye/skin/airway irritation, sore throat, and cough. Can also cause olfactory fatigue or adaptation, reducing awareness of one's prolonged exposure at low concentrations.
Ethylene dichloride - average of 34,500 lbs per year Inhalation of this vapor can induce effects on the human nervous system, liver, and kidneys, as well as respiratory distress, cardiac arrhythmia, nausea, and vomiting
Vinyl Chloride - average of 15,700 lbs per year Inhalation may cause dizziness or drowsiness. Long-term exposure through inhalation can cause severe liver damage.
Hydrochloric acid - average of 14,000 lbs per year Intensely irritating to the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Brief exposure can cause throat irritation; exposure to high concentrations can rapidly lead to swelling and spasm of the throat and suffocation.
Chloroform - average of 2,700 lbs per year Inhalation may cause fatigue, dizziness, and headache. Longterm exposure through inhalation may damage your liver and kidneys.
Carbon tetrachloride - average of 2,000 lbs per year High exposure through inhalation can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.
1. CIEL, “How Fracked Gas, Cheap Oil, and Unburnable Coal are Driving the Plastics Boom”, Dec 2017, bit.ly/2Os7sln
2. Karlin, S. and Boone, T, “'This is a big one': Formosa picks St. James Parish for $9.4 billion chemical complex”, The Advocate, Apr 2018, bit.ly/2QDXXRF
5. U.S. Chemical Safety Board, Arkema Final Investigation Report (2018), bit.ly/2OxhhyD. EIP, Preparing for the Next Storm: Learning from the Man-Made Environmental Disasters that Followed Hurricane Harvey, 2018, bit.ly/2xq8YhN
6. Fountain, Henry, “Scientists Link Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rainfall to Climate Change,” NY
7. Good Jobs First, “Discover Where Corporations are Getting Taxpayer Assistance Across the United States”, 2018, bit.ly2BMmwa3
8. Associated Press, “Louisiana: $1.5B in tax breaks for $9.4B plant”, New Orleans City Business, Apr 2018, bit.ly/2Hru41X
9. CIEL, “How Fracked Gas, Cheap Oil, and Unburnable Coal are Driving the Plastics Boom”, Dec 2017, bit.ly/2Os7sln
10. Mitchell, David J, "St. James Parish Council, Planning Commission to Hold Hearings on Proposed $9.4 Billion Formosa Chemical Complex", The Advocate, July 2018, bit.ly/2OxrxXN
11. U.S. EPA, Enforcement & Compliance History Online, Detailed Facility Report, Accessed Sept. 17, 2018, bit.ly/2DhlZ2z
12. Good Jobs First, Violation Tracker Parent Company Summary, 2018, bit.ly/2xn0mHy
13. Hermes, Jennifer, “Formosa Plastics Faces $57M Lawsuit for Leaking Plastic Pellets into Bays”, Environmental Leader, Aug 2017, bit.ly/2QAV3gx
14. Hess, G, “La pollution violations to cost Formosa $4.3m”, ICIS News, Oct 2002, bit.ly/2xprgyF
15. U.S. EPA, Enforcement & Compliance History Online, Corporate Compliance Screener, bit.ly/2DgtN42 (searched for “Formosa plastics,” last checked Sept. 17, 2018)
16. EIP, “Environmental Enforcement Under Trump”, Aug. 10, 2017, bit.ly/2QDztb9
17. World Economic Forum, “The New Plastics Community: Rethinking the future of plastics”, Jan 2016, bit.ly/1Ou5wDU
18. Clean Water Action, “The Problem of Marine Plastic Pollution”, 2018, bit.ly/2PK9D4i
19. Friends of the Mississippi River, “2016 Annual Report”, bit.ly/2xhDaeQ
20. Texas Hill Country Staff, “Microplastics are Polluting the Gulf of Mexico and Getting Into Seafood”, Texas Hill Country, May 2017, bit.ly/2xpkE3u
21. Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, “Annual Recycling Report - Calendar Year 2016”, Feb 2018, bit.ly/2MEfyWp
22. U.S. EPA, “Facts and Figures about Materials, Waste, and Recycling”, Accessed Sept 17, 2018, bit.ly/2Nkv1Aj
23. U.S. EPA, Enforcement & Compliance History Online, Air Pollutant Report, accessed Sept. 17, 2018, bit.ly/2D54VMR