Volunteers' Nurdle-Tracking Efforts Led To Ruling Against Plastics Maker | KERA News

Volunteers' Nurdle-Tracking Efforts Led To Ruling Against Plastics Maker

Jul 5, 2019
Originally published on July 5, 2019 4:14 pm

From Texas Standard:

Texas Standard has covered the dangers nurdles pose to marine life on the Texas coast. Now, the Texas Observer reports that Formosa Plastics, a petrochemical company outside of Port Lavaca, can be held liable for violating state and federal pollution laws after a federal judge ruled against the company last week.

Nurdles are small pieces of plastic that look like hail.

The Texas Observer's Amal Ahmed covered the story, and says the nonprofit San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper filed the lawsuit against Formosa in March. The group's members collected samples of nurdle pollution in Cox Creek, which feeds into Lavaca Bay. 

Formosa Plastics is a Taiwanese company whose U.S. subsidiary is accused of polluting the bay.

"They have these permits to release what's called 'trace amounts' of this waste material from their manufacturing process," Ahmed says. "For years and years, this company has been arguing that they haven't exceeded those permits, that anything that's in the water is … under the trace amounts they're allowed under their permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ." 

Because the company claims to be in compliance with its permit, it is not required to file a report with TCEQ. 

Activists made their case by documenting the volume of nurdles that ended up in the bay.

"They did it on their own without the legitimacy of having a report filed at the TCEQ," Ahmed says. "They were the ones doing it themselves."

In response to the data presented by Waterkeeper, the judge ruled that Formosa "consistently and serially violated its permits, and continues to do so to this day," Ahmed says.

"The hope is that with this new ruling, the company might be able to be held liable under the Clean Water Act," Ahmed says. 

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Copyright 2019 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.