Formosa Plastics to Pay Nearly $3M to Settle Air Pollution Charges

WASHINGTON — The U.S. subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Corp. will pay $2.85 million to settle civil charges it violated federal air pollution laws after a series of fires and explosions at its petrochemical manufacturing plant in Texas injured some of its workers, the Justice Department said on Monday.

In its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the Justice Department said that during the fires at the company’s Point Comfort, Texas, plant from May 2013 through October 2016, workers suffered serious injuries including second- and third-degree burns, as well as chlorine inhalation.

The Clean Air Act requires companies to identify potential hazards, maintain safe facilities and minimize the consequences of accidental releases. The measure was put into place by Congress following a 1984 release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India, which left more than 3,400 people dead and another 200,000 people injured.

“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,” said Todd Kim, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement issued on Monday.

As part of the consent decree, which must be approved by a federal court, the company will be required to update its internal plans for responding to public and environmental risks and addressing worker safety.

It also must conduct a third-party audit of its risk management practices.

A company spokesperson could not immediately be reached.

This marks at least the second consent decree the company will be entering over pollution in recent years.

In 2019, the company settled a citizen suit over complaints about wastewater and stormwater discharge from the same plant in Point Comfort.

About the photo: An explosion at the Formosa Plastics Point Comfort plant near Point Comfort, Texas, sends plumes of smoke and flames high into the air, Thursday, Oct 6, 2005. (AP Photo/Victoria Advocate, Frank Tilley, File)