Formosa Plastics Corp. was recently fined more than $20,000 for not reporting by deadline that it had released contaminants into the air in 2015 and for failing to prevent a similar release the following year.
Formosa got $4,025 of its fine deferred for expediting a settlement with the state, and an additional $8,051 of its fine was offset because the company is working with the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers on an environmental project, records show.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality formally approved this enforcement matter along with about a dozen others during a meeting Wednesday.
Melissa Cordell, who works for the TCEQ’s enforcement division, said the agency assessed $752,321 in penalties and $221,357 was deferred and another $204,140 was applied to environmental projects.
Records show Formosa released almost 4,000 pounds of vinyl chloride monomer from its facility in Point Comfort over about an eight-hour period May 6, 2015. It was supposed to report the release to the state May 7, 2015, but did not do so until March 2, 2016.
Formosa spokesman Steve Marwitz said when the release was discovered, it was immediately corrected. He said Formosa initially thought the quantity of the released contaminants was low enough that it didn’t have to be reported. He said they reported it in March after discovering that was not the case.
Records also show that Formosa released more than 100 pounds of the same chemical from its facility over about three hours Sept. 20, 2016, and that this was because someone had not properly installed some equipment.
Vinyl chloride monomer, a colorless, highly flammable gas with a sweet odor, is used to make plastic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is a carcinogen and associated with an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
According to the TCEQ, Formosa has revised its reporting procedures and retrained some of its employees.
Marwitz said Formosa’s environmental project involves buying new, more energy-efficient buses for the school district.