USA: Formosa Plastics settles waterways pollution lawsuit for $50 million

Author: Kiah Collier, Texas Tribune (USA), Published on: 5 December 2019

"Retired Texas shrimper wins record settlement from plastics giant", 4 Dec 2019

A federal judge on Tuesday approved a historic settlement agreement between Taiwanese-based plastics manufacturer Formosa and a scrappy environmental activist represented by indigent legal services nonprofit Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid [TRLA].

TRLA said the $50 million settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving a private citizen's lawsuit against an industrial polluter under federal clean air and water laws. The money will be poured into a trust over the next five years and used to pay for programs supporting pollution mitigation, habitat restoration, public education and other environmental efforts on the middle Texas Gulf Coast.

Diane Wilson, a retired shrimper and an environmental activist, sued Formosa in July 2017, alleging that its Port Comfort plant had illegally discharged thousands of plastic pellets and other pollutants into Lavaca Bay and other nearby waterways...

In its defense, Formosa -- which is in the process of expanding the plant -- argued that a $121,875 fine against it by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state's environmental regulatory agency, made the lawsuit moot...

In a statement, TLRA noted that the settlement is not only the largest citizen suit settlement in U.S. history, but the largest by far -- five times larger than the next highest clean water settlement and tens of millions of dollars more than the next highest clean air settlement, which was won by Texas environmental groups in a case against ExxonMobil...

Under the settlement, Formosa agreed to comply with "zero discharge" of all plastics in the future and to clean up existing pollution. Hoyt inquired about that progress during the hearing on Tuesday, saying he wanted to make sure it became a reality.


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Related companies: Formosa Plastics