Louisiana, Third World Dumping Ground

By Greenpeace

Vol. 11, No. 4, 1989, p. 21

Oh, for the good old days, when U.S. environmentalists and their gangs of regulators were ruining the economy by forcing well-meaning companies to take their business abroad. Now, according to a report in Taiwan's China Post, that country's super-rich plastics tycoon, Wang Yung-Ching, is facing "difficulties raised by increasing labor and environmental movements." He plans to take his business, Formosa Plastics, abroad--to Louisiana.

In March, Formosa Plastics announced plans for a $470 million plastic firm production facility in Pointe Coupee Parish to manufacture such consumer staples as imitation leather, swimming pool liners and raincoats. This is the same Formosa Plastics that has had "serious groundwater contamination and lots of releases" at a vinyl chloride plant in Baton Rouge, according to Willie Fontenot, a special assistant on environmental affairs to Louisiana state attorney general.

Formosa Plastics has a checkered history. In 1985, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency decree revoking all of the company's permits after tolerating four years of consistent violations, including 40 separate illegal releases of carcinogenic gas (10 after a cease-and-desist order was issued) and violations of waste water permits in 16 out of the preceding 24 months. Louisiana seemed unconcerned. The company's renewed interest in Pointe Coupee, said one state developmental official, "symbolizes Formosa's commitment to Louisiana."