Tue, Jul 09, 2019 - Page 12 News List

FPC counters pollution claim: ‘Not a final ruling’

‘A SERIAL OFFENDER’:A June 27 opinion by US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt found the company to have breached the US’ Clean Water Act by releasing plastic into waterways

By Kwan Shin-han  /  Staff reporter

Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC, 台塑) yesterday said that reports saying that its Texas factories have been polluting the environment with plastic particles are based on a legal opinion written by a US district judge, “not a final ruling.”

“As the case is ongoing,” the company said it would not comment further.

However, a June 27 ruling by US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt found FPC guilty of breaching the US’ Clean Water Act by releasing plastic pellets and PVC powder into nearby waterways in Texas.

In the ruling, the judge called the company “a serial offender” that had broken the law over “some 1,149 days,” from Jan. 31, 2016, to at least March 24.

Although the company denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the discharge contained only trace amounts, Hoyt said that FPC “has never reported a single discharge of floating solids” to the state environmental agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The ruling showed that most of the samples offered to the court had been collected by local environmentalists and conservation groups, who filed a lawsuit against the company in March.

The plaintiffs are seeking a fine of about US$162 million to be used for cleanup costs, the Texas Tribune reported, saying that penalties would be determined in the next phase, probably in September.

The commission on Jan. 17 assessed a penalty of US$121,875 against FPC for six polluting incidents in April and May 2017.

FPC has been expanding its production at its Texas factories in recent years to take advantage of lower prices of shale gas.

The expansion, which includes an ethane cracking plant with an annual output of 1.2 million tonnes of ethylene, a factory with an annual output of 400,000 tonnes of low-density polyethylene with, and another manufacturing unit with an annual output of 250,000 tonnes of polypropylene, the state-run Central News Agency reported yesterday.

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