PORT LAVACA - The state environmental agency is investigating an allegation that Formosa Plastics Corporation has released plastic pellets into Lavaca Bay.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality received a complaint about the pellets Feb. 18, said the agency's spokeswoman, Andrea Morrow.
The agency's investigation began in March and is ongoing, she said.
Formosa makes polyethylene pellets from natural gas. The company sells the plastic pellets to industries that mold the beads into plastic housewares, containers and toys.
Ronnie Hamrick, a former Formosa employee, has been finding small pellets the size and shape of lentils on shores around Lavaca Bay. He said the pellets in the bay are coming from his former employer.
"Look at all these pellets," Hamrick said, opening up black plastic trash bags full of beach debris. Among the twigs and shells were small translucent plastic beads.
Hamrick worked for Formosa for 25 years, retiring from his shift supervisor position in 2005. He is protesting the plant's wastewater permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as a member of Texas Injured Workers.
The draft permit allows Formosa to drain an average of 9.7 million gallons of wastewater per day and a maximum of 15.1 million gallons per day into Lavaca Bay through a pipeline.
The draft permit does not allow Formosa to discharge floating debris or suspended solids, according to the environmental agency.
Formosa's spokesman, Bill Harvey, responded to the allegation that plastic pellets from Formosa are getting into the bay with a prepared statement:
"The TCEQ conducted its annual wastewater audit at Formosa earlier this month and the company is awaiting the agency's final report."