Formosa Plastics Corp. USA is facing a hefty proposed fine from the state of Delaware for allegedly mishandling hazardous waste at its Delaware City, Del., PVC plant.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control proposed the $241,013 fine on Sept. 27. The company is currently reviewing the paperwork for a timely response, Formosa spokesman Steve Rice told Plastics News on Sept. 28, in an interview from the company's U.S. headquarters in Livingston, N.J.
Formosa has 30 days to review the violations from a June plant inspection and proposed fine and respond to the state.
The seven violations range from a failure to post a “no smoking” sign near ignitable waste to a failure to meet recycling targets for PVC solids and to label unrecycled material as hazardous waste.
According to the documents, as long as at least 75 percent of the “PVC solids referred to as BB's … which are considered byproducts” generated annually at the resin plant are recycled, it is not considered hazardous solid waste. A January 2015 inventory shows 193,800 pounds of PVC solids were on-site, according to the state and 104,703 pounds were recycled that year.
“As Formosa failed to achieve the 75 percent recycling rate, the remaining 89,097 pounds of byproduct (approximately 71 super sacks) became a solid waste on Jan. 1, 2016, and all applicable RCRA requirements became applicable. At the time of the assessment, the observed super sacks of BB's were not labeled as hazardous waste,” the penalty assessment says.
Failing to move the more than 89,000 pounds of waste offsite within 90 days is also a violation, according to the documents.
Formosa's Delaware City facility is already on the federal government's radar, with a new investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched about a year ago into possible groundwater contamination from the 400-acre PVC plant.
Groundwater, used locally for drinking water and agriculture, was found to be contaminated with chemicals, including ethylene dichloride, earning the Delaware City PVC plant a spot on the federal Superfund list of most contaminated sites in 1983. The plant was built in 1966 by Stauffer Chemical Co., which used unlined earthen lagoons and pits to dispose of PVC waste and sludge. Stauffer sold the plant to Formosa in May 1981 but Stauffer is still responsible for the groundwater contamination and cleanup.
In 2013, Formosa was fined nearly $1.5 million by the U.S. EPA for failing to install more than 8,000 pieces of leak detection and repair equipment at its plastics and chemical plant in Point Comfort, Texas.