Environmental Groups: Formosa Poses Threat to Communities, Environment

Formosa Plastics Slave Cemeteries
Flowers are placed on a fence at a burial ground after members of RISE St. James conducted a live stream video, on property owned by Formosa, in St. James Parish, La., Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Formosa Plastics Group’s six-decade track record is “riddled with environmental, health, safety, and labor violations in multiple countries,” according to a new report from the Center for International Environmental Law, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Earthworks. The report’s authors allege regulatory violations, accidents, human rights abuses, and disproportionate impacts on systematically exploited communities.

The environmental groups say their report comes at a time when oil and gas companies are increasingly tying their future growth to the demand for plastics and the oil- and gas-based petrochemicals used to make them. Formosa Plastics Group is among the producers with major expansion plans, including proposals to extend its existing operations in several locations.  

“The human rights and environmental harms associated with Formosa Plastics’ operations are egregious, but unfortunately not exceptional for the industry. Plastics and petrochemical production, like the fossil fuel industry that feeds it, is a dirty business, with dire consequences for communities and the climate. Expanding petrochemical production in the midst of multiple planetary emergencies is irresponsible; allowing a company with a track record like Formosa Plastics’ to do so is downright reckless,” said Nikki Reisch, director of the Climate & Energy Program at CIEL. “Few plastics and petrochemical producers are household names, but they are all too familiar to the fenceline communities that bear the brunt of the pollution and the threat of accidents from their facilities.” 

Formosa Plastics proposes to construct one of the world’s largest new production facilities for plastics and plastic feedstocks in St. James Parish. Activists and legal challenges have slowed the project’s progress. 

“This report is a wake-up call that Formosa Plastics’ proposed ‘Sunshine Project’ is an environmental and human rights disaster waiting to happen. For President Biden to make good on his environmental justice promises his administration must reject Formosa Plastics’ proposal,” said report co-author and Earthworks’ Infrastructure Campaign Manager Ethan Buckner.

“The people of Louisiana deserve a good, safe economy that is supportive of local communities and provides reliable, well-paying jobs,” said Jane Patton, co-author and CIEL’s Plastics & Petrochemicals Campaign Manager, based in southern Louisiana. “Our state’s elected leaders should be prioritizing safe and renewable energy technologies that provide long-term support and stability. Formosa Plastics will not provide any of those things, and this company and its project are wrong for Louisiana on all fronts.”  

The authors/groups call on policymakers and decision makers to take immediate action to “hold Formosa Plastics Group accountable for existing harms from its operations; take the company’s history of environmental, health, and safety impacts into account when reviewing applications for new permits; ending public subsidies for the plastics and petrochemical industries; and adopting a ban on new plastics and petrochemical facilities to protect communities and the planet from the rising impacts of petrochemical production.”

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