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Keep Houston Press Free
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Formosa Plant Keeps On Polluting

The pollution record of a Taiwanese company's largest polyvinyl chloride plant in the U.S. just got worse.

The Formosa Plastics Corp. facility in Point Comfort, Texas, yesterday was fined $121,443 by state regulators for numerous air violations and unauthorized emissions in 2005 and 2006.

It's the latest chapter in a history of environmental misdeeds committed at the huge chemical plant on Lavaca Bay, which already is a national Superfund site thanks to mercury poisoning from Alcoa.

Formosa, owned by the Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan, was fined a record $3.7 million in 1991 by the EPA for contaminating the groundwater under the facility. In 2005, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality fined Formosa $150,000 for releasing vinyl chloride.

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The latest TCEQ fine deals, in part, with an October 2005, fire at Formosa that injured 11 and burned for 5 days. The so-called emission event lasted 55 days and included the release of 40,739 pounds of volatile organic chemicals and 2,253 pounds of benzene.

Half of the fine levied by the state will be spent to fix the sewer system in Point Comfort, which seems fitting since Formosa was given hefty tax abatements to move there in the first place.

-- Steve Olafson

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