Calhoun Port Authority Meeting

Luis De La Garza, who in May was elected to represent District 4 on the Calhoun Port Authority board flips through a budget report.

POINT COMFORT – The Calhoun Port Authority indulged its best customer on Wednesday by giving Formosa permission to build two pipelines on its property and water for the company to use.

The pipelines, Formosa vice president Jack Wu said, will bring Formosa’s product from the monoethylene glycol plant it is building in Point Comfort to the global market.

Wu asked the board to amend the port’s agreement with Arrowhead Offshore Pipeline, which already has an easement for a pipeline rack at the port, so Formosa can add two pipelines to the rack.

Mickey Sappington, the vice president for G&W Engineers, the Port Lavaca company that designed the rack, said it could handle the additional load.

Monoethylene glycol is raw material in the manufacture of polyester fiber. It is also used in antifreeze, according to Nan Ya Plastics, which is part of a petrochemical conglomerate that includes Formosa.

Port board secretary Shields A. “Tony” Holladay, Sr., meanwhile, left the meeting on Wednesday pleased that his and former board chair Frank Diebel’s idea get a water supply contract with the Lavaca Navidad River Authority for 594 acre feet of water per year in 1995 had finally paid off. Holladay estimated that Formosa paying the port to pay the river authority for that water would save the port about $90,000 this year.

But new board members Jasper “Jay” Cuellar and Luis De La Garza asked questions of port staff and Formosa before agreeing to give Formosa the water, describing the water one of the port’s greatest assets.

Cuellar asked that the contract more clearly state that the port retained ownership of the water and that Formosa could not resell it or use it for anything other than industrial purposes.

Cuellar and De La Garza also asked port staff to remind them to re-evaluate the water contract in at least three years.

“Everything is gravy right now, but in 10 years or 20 years that relationship (with Formosa) may not be the same and the port’s needs may not be the same and so is this the best way to word the contract? That was my concern,” Cuellar said.

The way the contract is currently written Formosa would pay a $250 administrative fee to the port as well as what the port pays the river authority for the water every month. In June, the port paid the river authority $9,370.70 for the water, according to the port’s check register. The port may also cancel the contract with Formosa with a 90-day written notice.

Wu agreed to the changes, so Formosa will get all of the port’s water, which would fill half the Astrodome in Houston.

Patrick Brzozowski, the general manager of the river authority, said Formosa already has a contract with the river authority for 36,200 acre feet of water per year. That’s enough water to fill 40 Astrodomes, according the Measure of Things, a tool that helps people understand physical quantities in terms they are familiar with.

Steve Marwitz, a Formosa spokesman, said Formosa needs the water from the port “to ensure that we are positioned with more water for times of drought and future growth.”

According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 22 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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