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Formosa fined nearly $1.5M for EPA violations

By: Frank Esposito

January 22, 2013

POINT COMFORT, TEXAS -- Formosa Plastics Corp. USA has been fined almost $1.5 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to install more than 8,000 pieces of leak detection and repair equipment at its plastics and chemicals plant in Point Comfort.

In a Jan. 3 filing in U.S. District Court in Victoria, Texas, government officials said that Formosa had violated terms of a February 2010 consent decree between the company and the EPA. The filing included a letter sent from the EPA to Formosa in March 2012 that said the firm "has failed to timely include" 8,191 components in the Point Comfort plant's leak detection and repair program.

The filing also included six letters sent from Livingston, N.J.-based Formosa to the EPA between August 2011 and April 2012 that confirmed the noncompliance.

In a Jan. 21 phone interview, Formosa spokesman Steve Rice said that the firm will pay the fine of $1,477,925. "Formosa has worked with the USA to resolve and correct this issue," he said. Formosa now is monitoring existing equipment that it was not monitoring before.

The original consent decree came about after Formosa was fined almost $3 million by the EPA in late 2009 for air, water and hazardous waste violations at its plants in Point Comfort and Baton Rouge, La. Company officials said at the time that Formosa would spend $10 million on pollution controls to address those violations.

Formosa's dispersion PVC resin plant in Delaware City, Del. Also has been fined twice in the last three years by the Occupational safety and Health Administration for safety and health violations. Most recently, that site was fined almost $150,000 in September 2012 for 16 violations.

Formosa's Point Comfort plant is a major producer of polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and related feedstocks. In March 2012, Formosa announced plans for a $1.7 billion expansion at the site because of increased availability of low-cost natural gas in North America. That expansion would include a new low density PE plant with annual capacity of about 660 million pounds.