Citizen-led lawsuit against plastics giant Formosa underway

San Antonio Bay Waterkeepers vs. Formosa Plastics

The trial for a civil suit against Formosa Plastics began Monday morning at the Victoria County Courthouse.

While plastics giant, Formosa says they’ve always been committed to environmental well- being, the plaintiff, San Antonio Bay Waterways claims Formosa is responsible for millions of pounds of plastic pellets dumped into waterways.

The opening statements by both Formosa and San Antonio Bay Waterways addressed the evidence of plastic pellets and how they were measured. The defense, however, raised the question of how you can determine a new pellet versus an old one?

Two witnesses have been called to the stand thus far. The first witness is a volunteer with San Antonio Waterkeepers . The witness explained how he would go to the bays and start collecting the plastic pellets. He detailed the way the collection samples were specified by date, time, wind direction, and location. The witness added that he found different types of pellets, some newer, some older, some caught in the vegetation and some floating in the water.

The second witness, Michael Marge, who is not affiliated with San Antonio Bay Waterkeepers has spent most of his whole life in Point Comfort. Marge said he started noticing the pellets in 2016 when he would go out on his boat; and reported seeing them as recently as early March 2019.

Both witnesses were questioned by Plaintiff and Defense attorneys.

Around lunchtime on Monday afternoon there was a press conference with reporters from both Texas and Louisiana, where Formosa plans to build a massive plastics plant in a port in St. James’ Parish.
Protesters from New Orleans came to protest Formosa’s move to Louisiana saying that the production of plastics is toxic from beginning to end and would harm the natural environment in Louisiana as well.

A member of community organization Rise St. James, from the St. James Parish in Louisiana, said, “The oil industry is trying to produce more profits by producing more plastics and their plan is to expand the America production of plastics by 35% by 2025, within the next 6 years.”

She goes on to say that allowing Formosa to expand to St. James Parish will put an African American community uniquely at risk of exposure to plastic particles in the environment. ” We do not need more plastic, but Formosa wants to add more in a community that is African American… It is environmental racism. ”

Steve Jones with the Center for Biological Diversity spoke next saying “Formosa needs to be held accountable here in Texas, and we cannot let them open a new plant in Louisiana.”

He goes on to say that with eight million tons of plastic entering our oceans every year, we are in a crisis. “We are never going to get our heads around this problem if we continue to increase plastic production and allow companies like Formosa to dump into Texas water ways and flow into the Gulf of Mexico and into oceans of the world.”

In February the state of Texas issued a $120,000 fine to Formosa Plastics on six different violations.

Amy Johnson, the lead attorney for this case, said, “We’ve removed those violations from our lawsuit, and our lawsuit involves 100s of violations that they’ve discharged not just where TCEQ says.”

The trial is expected to last the rest of the week. We will keep you updated as the trial unfolds.