Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas, has agreed to pay $ 2.85 million in civil penalties and improve its risk management program to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Prevention (CAA) chemical accident prevention provisions at its Point Comfort, Texas petrochemical manufacturing plant. .
In the complaint filed today with the proposed consent decree, the United States alleges 20 CAA violations. The Point Comfort plant in Formosa is subject to section 112 (r) of the CAA regulations, known as the Risk Management Program, which is designed to prevent the accidental release of hazardous substances.
Formosa’s investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was prompted by a series of fires, explosions and accidental releases at the Point Comfort plant, ranging from May 2013 to October 2016. These accidents caused injuries to workers, including the second and third. degree burns and chlorine inhalation requiring hospitalization, as well as material damage and release of extremely hazardous substances into the environment.
“Formosa has repeatedly violated the clean-up law prevention provisions of the Clean Air Act at the Point Comfort plant, endangering its workers, neighbors and the environment,” said Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Environmental Justice and Natural Resources Division. “This agreement will ensure Formosa’s compliance with essential regulations designed to protect workers and the community, as well as prevent hazardous chemical emissions from occurring in the future.”
“This case demonstrates the importance of adopting and executing proper chemical safety procedures to protect the safety of workers, the community and the environment,” said U.S. Attorney Jennifer Lowery in South Texas District functions.
“Formosa’s failure to implement safe work practices and the failure to design and maintain a safe facility put public health and the environment at risk,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Deputy Administrator. , for the EPA Office of Monitoring and Compliance. “The current settlement requires Formosa to meet its environmental obligations now and in the future, while protecting air quality and the Point Comfort community.”
Formosa will need to update its response and personal protection plans to prevent employee injuries, conduct a third-party audit of its risk management practices, take corrective action based on audit results, and develop key indicators. performance to assess future compliance. In addition, the company agreed to conduct a service compatibility assessment to identify incompatible equipment and implement a mechanical integrity reporting program.
The cost of repairing the judicial measure is estimated to be at least $ 1.4 million and will significantly improve the safe management of hazardous substances at the facility.
Congress added section 112 (r) to the CAA in response to a 1984 catastrophic release of methyl isocyanate in Bhopal, India, that killed more than 3,400 people and injured more than 200,000 people. Under the CAA, facilities such as Formosa are required to identify hazards, design and maintain a safe facility, minimize the consequences of accidental discharges that occur, and comply with regulatory prevention measures. Failure to comply with these requirements increases the risk of accidents and threatens surrounding communities.
Reducing the risk to human health and the environment by reducing the likelihood of chemical accidents in chemical facilities is one of the top priorities of the EPA’s enforcement and compliance program.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period, review and judicial approval. A copy of the consent decree can be found on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.