Nurdle by Nurdle, Citizens Took on A Billion-Dollar Plastic Company — and Won
A federal judge ruled that a “serial” polluter in Lavaca Bay can face more than $100 million in penalties.

Texas Observer
July 3, 2019

more than 1,000 days of violations recorded and TCEQ did nothing – plastic company taken down by citizens

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A federal judge ruled last Thursday that Formosa Plastics, a petrochemical company outside Port Lavaca, can be held liable for violating state and federal water pollution laws. According to a lawsuit filed in March, the company violated its environmental permits for years, dumping millions of tiny plastic pellets — known as nurdles — into Lavaca Bay. Formosa denied any illegal dumping, arguing that it didn’t emit more than the undefined “trace amounts” allowed by its permit.

Since the company never filed any record of pollution with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), much of the record-keeping and data collection was conducted by resident volunteers who patrolled Cox Creek by kayak, collecting samples of water contaminated with nurdles. The oddly named plastic balls are a raw material used for manufacturing plastics, and they can poison fish and other wildlife that ingest them. Armed with the volunteers’ data, the San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, an environmental nonprofit, brought a lawsuit against the company in March.

In his decision, Judge Kenneth Hoyt called the company’s violations “enormous,” referring to Formosa as a “serial offender” with more than 1,000 days of violations recorded.

The ruling brings some relief to residents who have been fighting the company’s pollution for decades. Retired shrimper Diane Wilson has been trying to get Formosa to stop dumping in the bay since the early ’90s. “I started when I was 40, and I’m 70 years now,” she says. “And this is the first time I ever felt that I had justice delivered.”……

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