Formosa Plastics agrees to resolve environmental violations
Formosa Plastics Corp., Texas, and Formosa Plastics Corp.,
Louisiana, will spend more than $10 million on pollution
controls to address air, water, and hazardous waste violations
at two petrochemical plants in Point Comfort, Texas,
and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to the Justice
Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The companies also have agreed to pay a civil penalty
of $2.8 million to resolve violations under the Clean
Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Emergency Planning and Community
Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Under the agreement lodged in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of Texas, both the Texas
and Louisiana facilities will implement a comprehensive
CAA enhanced leak detection and repair program, which
goes beyond regulatory requirements by requiring more
stringent leak definitions, more frequent monitoring
and monitoring and repair of additional chemical manufacturing
equipment. The leak prevention practices agreed to in
the settlement include an innovative program to replace
valves with new “low leak” valve technology, which will
significantly reduce the likelihood of future leaks.
The enhanced program also includes requirements for periodic
audits of the companies’ leak prevention practices to
ensure compliance going forward.
The enhanced leak detection and repair program will potentially
reduce the annual volatile organic compound (VOC) air
emissions from the two Formosa facilities by approximately
6,570,000 pounds per year of VOCs, including hazardous
air pollutants such as vinyl chloride.
The Formosa facilities also will undertake an enhanced
vinyl chloride leak detection and elimination program
designed to improve the companies’ systems for identifying
and addressing leaks of vinyl chloride.
In addition, the settlement requires both facilities
to undertake analyses to prevent future wastewater discharge
violations. The Formosa Texas facility will undertake
a comprehensive review of its compliance with EPCRA’s
toxic release reporting requirements, and the Formosa
Louisiana facility will cease improper disposal of certain
listed hazardous wastes.
The case was initiated as a result of inspections conducted
by EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center at
Formosa’s Point Comfort and Baton Rouge facilities. During
the inspections, EPA identified extensive Clean Air Act
leak detection and repair violations, including failing
to properly monitor leaking components, failing to include
chemical manufacturing equipment in its leak detection
and repair program, and failing to timely repair leaking
equipment. Inspectors also identified a variety of hazardous
waste violations at both facilities.
In addition, the inspectors found that Formosa had violated
wastewater discharge limits under its CWA permits, and,
at the Texas facility, had failed to comply with the
CAA benzene waste operations requirements and to submit
correct toxic release reporting information to EPA.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period
and final approval by the court.