Formosa Plastics Corporation
The 200-acre polyvinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturing facility was built in 1966 by Stauffer Chemical Company. The site was added as a Superfund site to the National Priorities List on September 8, 1983 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency entered into an agreement to remediate the site with Formosa and Stauffer Chemical Company in 1984.
In 2005, Formosa entered into a Consent Decree based on a complaint filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and DNREC for violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.
Court documents from the EPA Consent Decree charge Formosa Plastics with “failure to give proper, timely notices of releases of vinyl chloride and failure to properly calculate Toxic Release Inventory data”. Formosa plastics was required to pay a civil penalty of $450,000 and to comply with sampling and reporting requirements by the U.S. District Court.
Emissions of Air Toxins
Formosa Plastics is the only source for air emissions of Vinyl Chloride and Vinyl Acetate, and is the largest source of Ammonia emissions (85%), in New Castle County (see graph).
Formosa Plastics Corporation Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) air emissions, 2010.
Health Effects of Air Toxins
Ammonia and vinyl acetate are a corrosive substance and the main toxic effects are restricted to the sites of direct contact with ammonia (i.e., skin, eyes, respiratory tract). Vinyl chloride has been demonstrated to damage the liver and is a known human carcinogen (causes cancer).
When the plant first began to operate, nearby rivers and lagoons where used to dump PVC waste; Another area was even used to bury PVC sludge.
Groundwater under the site has been heavily contaminated with solvent chemicals, trichloroethylene, 1,2-dichloroethane, and vinyl chloride.
When local residential and commercial wells were found to be contaminated, alternate water supplies were promptly provided by the polluter.