The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Wednesday that it will require Formosa Plastics to complete a full environmental impact statement for its petrochemical complex being built in St. James Parish, Louisiana designed to produce single-use plastic packaging products.
This follows a lawsuit filed in early 2020 by the Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Rise St. James. The plaintiffs, who reportedly represent Black and low-income communities, alleged that the project would be harmful, and the District of Columbia District Court agreed. The court issued an order to remand the matter back to the Corps in January 2021.
“Today’s announcement is the ultimate David v. Goliath victory,” said Anne Rolfes with Louisiana Bucket Brigade in a press release. “We were not scared of Formosa Plastics and its $9 billion project, or the fact that our governor has been cheering for Formosa all along. St. James Parish residents are the ones who have shown leadership and wisdom. What the Corps has done today is common sense. Of course one of the biggest plastics plants in the world should require an environmental impact statement. Our state and federal officials should have demanded it from the outset. I am hopeful that this is the nail in the coffin of Formosa Plastics in St. James Parish. And don’t try to build somewhere else. Pack up and go home.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after the present memorandum, will perform a full analysis of the impacts of the controversial plastics factory. The analysis will consider the potential impacts on the environment, public health, and culture.
A press release from the Center for Biological Diversity explained that the communities that would be affected by the factory live in a corridor already known as “Cancer Alley or Death Alley” making an environmental review even more important. It claimed, however, that “local opponents of the project have been aggressively dismissed, arrested and publicly criticized over their work to stop this project, which received huge taxpayer subsidies from the state.”
They explained that the facility would send 13.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year, while producing an additional 800 tons of pollutants which would spread throughout the city.
The Center also reported that last year Formosa Plastics paid $50 million in cleanup costs as part of a settlement for discharging plastic into Texas waters over a long period of time.