Nature and Environment Archive

Plastic Pellets in Lavaca Bay

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Okay, folks, here's a simple riddle:  What's twice the size of Texas and floating in the ocean?  Answer:  The great Plastic Vortex! Plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic toys. Plastic plastic!  Sylvia Earle, oceanographer and one of the world's greatest advocates of the sea, said "Far and away the most abundant, troublesome, persistent, deadly debris in the sea is composed of plastic."

Now sitting down here in Calhoun County, twix the bays and the live oak, you might ask yourself what the heck that's got to do with us 'cause  out of sight is out of mind. Right?  It's way out there in the ocean. We don't actually see that Plastic Vortez.  Well, think again.  We've got a giant PVC plant in our midst that's got a problem with controlling  pvc dust and pvc pellets. Just check out the latest OSHA and EPA inspections at Formosa Plastics.  PVC dust was everywhere.  On the workers, in the storm ditches, and all over the unit. There was so much pvc dust at Formosa a few scant months ago that it ignited a fire. Two workers were injured.

Formosa employee bagging PVC resin

And it's not just on site and worrisome to the workers; come high tide you will find plastic pellets easily on the tide line of Lavaca Bay and out on the small islands.  Just check out website.  On their photo section is photos taken during an EPA inspection at Formosa Plastics in June 2010: workers wearing bandanas to keep from breathing the vinyl chloride laced pvc dust and pvc pellets in the storm ditches.  There is also a photo of a beach in Lavaca Bay covered in pvc pellets.  A hint of what is making its way into our bays, estuaries, and the Gulf.  It's a violation of Formosa's wastewater permit to have solids escaping into the bay so where's Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA in all this?  Where oh where?

Lavaca Bay

Now, folks, just in case there are those of you out there that think we need to be soft on Formosa, cause after all they are providing jobs while creating havoc, just remember that Formosa Plastics Corporation, the flagship company of Taiwan's Formosa Plastic Group, said Friday (oops, today!) that its unaudited 2010 net profit  was NT$45.96 billion and its unaudited revenue was NT$194.45 billion.  Yep, that's billion dollars.  This company can well afford to protect its workers and stop the plastic waste from killing the bays.

Read the original post on Diane's new blog,

unreasonablewoman Diane Wilson is the author of An Unreasonable Woman and the forthcoming Diary of an Eco-Outlaw.

What it Takes to Shut Me Up

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Editor's note: Diane Wilson of Seadrift, Texas, is a fourth generation shrimper. In March of 1994, she took direct action against Formosa Plastics, a Taiwanese company, that had begun dumping toxins into Lavaca Bay. After her arrest and subsequent activism, she and others who organized to protect the region held the company to their goal: zero-discharge. Wilson tells her story — or part of it, as her activism has persisted — in the Texas Legacy Project, documenting conservation in the state of Texas. The project’s ambitious oral history has been excerpted in a new book from Texas A&M Press. The entire collection is available online. Thanks to editors David Todd and David Weisman for permission to post from Wilson’s interview.

Texas Legacy Project

In 1989, Diane Wilson learned that Calhoun County, Texas, her home, topped the nation in toxic emissions; she turned to direct action then and has persisted for twenty years.

I guess all of my work in the environmental field comes from my identity with the water. I’m a fourth-generation fisherwoman and I have spent my entire life on the bay. And when I was very young, I would go shrimping with my dad. I was probably five years old and I can remember coming to the bay, and the bay was a woman. I could see her and I could feel her personality. She was like a grandmother and she had this long gray hair, she had this long dress that kind of flowed out into the water. And when I was a kid, she was real to me. She had this personality of an old wise woman. And she really loved me….

When I was young, we would always spend the night out on the boat right before a “norther” storm would come blowing in. You’d be out there on the bay, on that old creaking boat (and I always slept on top of the cabin of the boat), and the whole boat would rock. Sometimes I would have a quilt and the wind would be blowing so hard it would take my quilt and it’d just pitch it out into the middle of the bay.

I think my favorite time was when the water was rough. I remember one time I was shrimping and my net got caught in the block of one of the ropes. So I had to scale the mast pole with a knife in my teeth and get right to the top and that mast and the whole boat was rocking and you could just see all of that water. And it was this gray water. And it was just wild in the rain and I have never felt that free in my life. It just conveys its power and this feeling of freedom. I’ve seen it where it was slick calm and it was like a mirror, but I guess my favorite has always been just seeing its power, because it talks very loud.

After a long battle against Formosa Plastics and their permit for a new facility that was going to pollute our bay, I had filed this appeal in Washington with the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], and, legally, I had stopped their permit. They could not move until a Washington federal judge decided whether they could have a discharge.

So, one day I was on the phone, talking with the EPA lawyer (and my name is Diane and Formosa’s lawyer’s name is Diane). And so, the EPA lawyer thought I was Formosa’s lawyer. And here she was, on the phone with me, just discussing about their wastewater discharge and how it was doing and how many gallons were being discharged . . . and I was like, “What?”

“You’re not supposed to be discharging anything. I got it blocked.” And yet they were still discharging. The state knew it. EPA knew it. Formosa knew it. It was just the public that didn’t know it.

The reality is: whatever they’re going to do, they are going to do. It does not matter how many laws they break. That’s just the reality. That’s what it boils down to.

C&EN Part of the 1,600-acre Formosa Plastics petrochemical plant in Port Comfort, Texas. I could not stand to just let it go like this. And you have to do something to grab people and say, “This is not right!” ….

And so just off the top of my head, I knew I was going to sink something, and I knew it had to be my own boat. I knew this because, while I do civil disobedience, I never do damage to anybody else. It’s a personal thing. And so, I felt I had to sacrifice my boat. And in reality, the truth is, that boat is nowhere near as valuable as that bay….

Of course, I took the motor out of my boat, because if I had spilled the diesel oil in the bay, everybody would’ve looked at the oil and said “Oh, look at that polluter.” And they wouldn’t have said anything about Formosa putting seven million gallons a day of wastewater out there illegally. That wouldn’t have been the issue. It would’ve been me.

So I took the engine out, because I intended to sink the boat. And I got a shrimper to pull me out in the dead of night. And I was going all the way to Lavaca Bay and I was going to get out to Formosa’s discharge pipe and I was going to sink it right on top of that discharge. It was going to go down and the only thing was supposed to remain sticking up was the mast pole. It was going to be a monument to Formosa’s wrong and evil deed of destruction — what they were doing to that bay. . . .

The only problem was that the Coast Guard got wind of the plan, so I had three boatloads of Coast Guard surrounding me. And they said that I was a terrorist on the high seas and was going to get fifteen years in the federal penitentiary and five hundred thousand dollars in penalties. They said if any shrimper dared tow me out there any further (and I was almost there, I was probably about half a mile away from the discharge point), that they would confiscate their boat, too.

diane wilson and net Texas Gold Diane Wilson mends her nets, a stlll from director Carolyn Scott's documentary Texas Gold (2007), a film about Wilson's environmental activism. So the Coast Guard confiscated my boat. And, matter of fact, I spent the night on the boat, tied up by the Coast Guard boats. The Coast Guard spent the night, too, and there were three truckloads of them. I guess they were afraid, somehow or another, I was going to get that boat out to the discharge and sink it. I don’t know, maybe they thought I was going to fly it out there!

But the other shrimpers in the bay, they surprised me. They normally haven’t been supporting me because they just quit believing. They just quit believing you can make a difference. But they were so taken by what I was doing, they all got in their shrimp boats and headed out to form a blockade.

The Vietnamese and the Anglos and the Hispanics. As it was, a huge norther had come in, so
it was a really rough time out in the bay. And on Lavaca Bay, when it’s really rough, you can sink a tanker—that’s how rough it can get. So it was very dangerous. But they all took their boats and they did this blockade and this protest. And that attracted a lot of media attention.

And it was after that, Formosa Plastics said, “What is it going to take to shut her up?”

And so that’s how I got zero discharge.

Diane Wilson is the author of Holy Roller, An Unreasonable Woman, and the forthcoming Diary of an Eco-Outlaw.

The Naked Truth of It All…

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Eight years ago—pre CodePink—thirty very unreasonable women met for a week in a canyon in California. These early Unreasonable Women for the Earth had a goal and that was to discuss how to bring a new, bolder, braver, and more enlightened change to our badgered and bedeviled home we call Planet Earth. In those early days, we were very diverse; we were from all corners—left and right, top and bottom—of the USA. Our skins were brown, white, black, and red. We were a rainbow of women with a rainbow of causes and our struggles stretched from the theaters in New York City, to immigration in Seattle, to urban gardens in LA, to petrochemical hellholes in Texas, to the peace work in the streets of Washington, DC.  One commonality, though, united us all: a dream to bring life instead of death, hope instead of despair, justice instead of injustice, and peace instead of war to this Planet Earth.

One of our first actions as Unreasonable Women of the Earth was to support the Bhopal hunger strike. Bhopal, India is the site of the worst environmental disaster in the world. Over 20,000 people have died from the insecticide-like poison that was released from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984. In 2002, the survivors of Bhopal began another hunger strike to wrestle justice from the Indian government and also the Union Carbide Corporation. But they fell ill. The Unreasonable Women of the Earth heard about their plight and decided to begin a USA leg of the hunger fast. The Bhopal fast for justice enlisted over a thousand people and 8 different countries and was so successful that the Indian Government, that had been considering dropping the charges against Union Carbide and making the tragedy a little more than a traffic accident, reinstated the charges against Union Carbide and put out extradition papers to have Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, returned to India to stand trial. The Bhopal activists gave much of the credit for the success of that hunger strike to The Unreasonable Women of the Earth.

Shortly after that action in 2002, many of those very same Unreasonable Women of the Earth rose to the challenge of the USA government’s preemptive strike on Iraq and founded CodePink. That war, in a country thousands of miles away, enlisted all of our stamina, strength, and courage but we never lost sight of the fact that ALL the dots were connected—the war in Iraq did not stand by itself. Sometimes it’s just a little easier to see than at other times. For me, living in Texas along the Gulf Coast in the oil, chemical, and gas hellhole we call an energy corridor, the reason for the preemptive war was crystal clear. The war was about oil. Who had it and who controlled it. It was not only about our addiction to oil and fossil fuel but also the stranglehold of corporations upon this nation. Corporate stranglehold in our country was such that the former CEO of a huge corporation that landed billions of dollars in war contracts in Iraq was also vice president of the USA. I’m talking Dick Cheney, here.

We are seeing those dots connected again with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is easily shown by the careless, cavalier attitude of BP CEO, Tony Hayward, who has said that the largest oil spill in US history is a tiny spill in comparison to such a big ocean and that those miles upon miles of underwater oil plumes that stretches to who knows where and doing who knows what to the fisheries, the ecosystem, and the Gulf of Mexico for possible generations, is really, by their estimate, going to have a “very very modest impact.” The words ‘their estimate’ should have sent up a red flag.  BP’s first estimate: the oil was not leaking. Second estimate: it was a l, 000 barrels. Third estimate: it was 5,000 barrels. Independent researchers have estimated the oil leaking from the ruptured well is perhaps 75,000-25,000 barrels. BP wasn’t even close and if they were, they certainly weren’t telling.

This funny kind of truth telling isn’t news to me. I’m a fourth generation fisherwoman and for the last twenty-one years of my life I have been fighting corporations such as these. It’s a hard thing to do, too, when corporations are self-regulating and the agencies in control are NOT in control. But then that’s all about corporate stranglehold, isn’t it? Who has the resource (and profits and power!) and who controls it.  That’s why the BP action that we are fixing to engage in is so important to Unreasonable Women of the Earth and CodePinkers. The dragon that we wage against in an unjust war over oil is the same dragon in the Gulf of Mexico. Just pull back the mask. You’ll see.

Diane Wilson is an environmental activist, CODEPINK Cofounder, a fourth-generation shrimper, mother and the author of An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas (Chelsea Green, 2005) and Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus

An Open Letter to OSHA

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

David Michaels
Assistant Secretary of Labor for
Occupational Safety and Health
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Mr. David Michaels,

We are the Injured Workers United from Calhoun County, Texas. We are writing this letter in the hope that we can have a meeting with you to express our concern about the Formosa Plastics facility in Point Comfort, Texas. We are former and current workers of Formosa who formed a group in order to support each other through our disabilities, illnesses, financial hard times, and the experience of working under a company that, we believe, has shown, and continues to show, a high disregard for its workers, community, and the environment.

Some of us have been working at Formosa Plastics, Point Comfort, Texas since the plant’s start up in l981. Many of us have given eighteen years, twenty years, twenty-five years, and twenty-seven years of service to a company that has shown a consistent callousness for the worker and a dangerous inaptness about how they run their company.

Recently, the EPA hit Formosa Plastics with a $13 million penalty. This is not news to us. Almost all of us are whistle blowers. We have documented unreported EDC releases, unsafe towers, tack welded ladders, and uncontained vinyl chloride leaks so plentiful that the alarms were shut off in the control room. These complaints were sent to Formosa’s management, where they went nowhere. A few more of us were whistle blowers for the state and federal agencies and provided information in 200l for the wastewater investigation in which the FBI subpoenaed Formosa’s wastewater documents. That went nowhere, too. A toxic investigator said in our last meeting with him in 2009 that even though the EPA/FBI/Texas environmental task force had a case against Formosa, the investigation was dropped.

Certainly, the violations haven't stopped. We suppose that is the reason for the recent $13 million settlement/Consent Decree against Formosa Plastics. I guess even the EPA gets fed up. Recent findings by EPA investigators at the Formosa facility in Point Comfort, Texas showed extensive Clear Air Act leak detection and repair violations, including failure to properly monitor leaking components (500 in one unit), failure to include chemical manufacturing equipment in its leak detection and repair program, and failure to timely repair leaking equipment. The inspectors also found “extensive” leak detection and repair violations, as well as other hazardous waste violations at the site and wastewater discharge violations.

In January 2009, the science journal Ecotoxicity, published a report by scientists at Texas A&M. The report revealed changes in chromosome structure and other genetic damage in cattle as far as six miles downwind of Formosa. The changes in chromosome structure and other genetic damage can increase the animal’s risk of cancer and reproductive damage. Because of the strong, steady wind from the southeast, researchers expected that if Formosa Plastics was the main culprit, then cattle located downwind or northwest from the facility would show larger genetic disturbances. The results provided a “strong indication of increased damage.” Wesley Bissett, lead study author and veterinarian at Texas A&M College of Veterinarian Medicine, said the cattle with the DNA damage were “orientated around the Formosa facility, with the highest damage occurring with those nearby and those downwind.” Bisset reported damage to cattle both within close proximity of the Formosa facility and in areas where the prevailing winds would blow the toxic gases.

In October, 2009 the EPA conducted a meeting in Port Lavaca, Texas regarding Formosa’s extensive ethylene dichloride contamination that has been caused, in part, by their process exceedances, overflows, spills, and general inadequate housekeeping that has forced closure of a nearby state rest area on Highway 35, buy-out of subsequent nearby property, and the contamination of the groundwater in 2 millions part per billion and nearby Cox Creek in the thousands part per million. The safety of local water wells is unsure at this time.

Our reasons for writing are several. We believe that Formosa’s poor environmental record can only mean that their occupational record is equally suspect. We, ourselves, are proof of it. Many of us have documented thrombocytosis, neurological damage, cognitive impairment, severe peripheral neuropathy that can only be treated with a surgically implanted plant that delivers morphine to the spinal nerves 24/7. One member is now in the hospital undergoing repeated surgeries to remove cancerous tumors. Another member has a friend in his unit that died from brain cancer. Another worker that sniffed the leaking valves and flanges, for which the EPA recently cited Formosa, died of angiosarcoma, liver cancer. A number of workers have developed knots on their heads and have been told by friends to get a biopsy, but they haven’t because they are afraid of what they will find. Brain Cancer.

The concern abut brain cancer among the workers has been so severe that Formosa sent out a memo to all the vinyl employees that they were bringing in a doctor who could talk about brain cancer. Basically, the doctor told the concerned workers that there was no link between vinyl chloride exposure and brain cancer. Who knows what caused it. Probably the barbeque they ate. Too much water. After all, the dose makes the poison.

One of our injured workers was involved in Formosa’s daily logging of vinyl chloride leaks in the PVC unit. He said the leaks ranged from 1.2 to 7 to 13 to 35 to 177 to 987 to 2,000 parts per million, and this for every hour of very day of every year. And he was there for 25 years. Another time EDC (ethylene dichloride) was sent in error to the PVC/VCM unit and the workers waded in the stuff for three days with nothing but rubber boots and gloves to protect them. Another time, the wastewater line was tied into the drinking water line and the workers drank wastewater-tainted coffee. This worker’s last act at Formosa was after a supervisor requested he falsify a four-ton vinyl chloride release so that the company could report 2.79 pounds to the EPA.

Randy Smith, vice president and general manager at Formosa Plastics, Point Comfort, Texas recently, and in reference to the $13 million settlement, said, “there is no significant environmental or health issues.” That is ludicrous and deserves a response. It is one of the reasons we are requesting a meeting with you. Hopefully you can help us understand why OSHA in Corpus Christi has responded to every complaint we have sent them (eight in one year's time) with a letter to Formosa, then subsequently closing the case.

Our group is currently consulting scientists from Tulane University, Texas A&M University, and University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who have scientific knowledge and expertise regarding exposures, health effects, and risks that many of these chemicals have. The hospitals in Taiwan call the worker illnesses related to Formosa the “Formosa Syndrome.” We have the same problem here in Texas.

It is our hope to meet with you when you come to Texas in April, 2010. Many months ago we wrote the Corpus Christi, OSHA office and game a similar list of complaints and requested a meeting. A divisional officer told us they couldn’t give us a meeting, but they were sending one of our items of complaint in a letter to Formosa. We never heard another word. We are tired of waiting to be heard. Looking forward to your response.

Please Respond To:

Injured Workers United
PO Box 1001
Seadrift, Texas 77983
[email protected]
[email protected]

Conquered by Petrochemicals? Taiwan's Disgrace! Formosa Plastics Wins Black Planet Award!

Friday, May 21st, 2010

As people come and go from the Taipei City bus stop in front of the Formosa Plastics Group Headquarters and Changgeng Memorial Hospital on Dunhua North Road, they can't help but note the words of an advertisement: "A million bus trips doesn’t add up to a single smokestack." A large bright red Chinese character for "shame" stands out against a dark gray background portraying the smokestacks of Taiwan's Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant. The forlorn expressions of three Yunlin County children cry out "Give us back our clean soil, air, and water." This bus-side advertisement was created and sponsored by environmental groups to mark Formosa Plastics Group’s winning of the International Black Planet Award. But on the day before the award ceremony, the word for “shame” was ripped out from one of the ads and while the bus company said “it wasn’t us” Formosa is threatening to sue the advertising agent. With everyone wondering who has the incentive to interfere with the right to speak the truth, environmental groups are undeterred, launching an international union to uncover the truth about the FPG ( and choosing 19 May, "Y. C. Wang Day", to hold the award ceremony.


Following a transnational nomination and selection process, in November 2009 the German Ethics and Economics Foundation (ethecon) chose the management of Formosa Plastics to receive the Black Planet Award for 2009. They include the Y. C. Wang Family, Formosa Plastics President Lee Chih-tsuen, and other Formosa executives. Previous recipients of the award include these other industry leaders: US based pesticide, fertilizer, and genetically modified seed producer Monsanto; Swiss food processor Nestle; and US based military contractor Xe/Blackwater.

2009年11月德國倫理暨經濟基金會(ethecon) 經過跨國提名與決選程序,將「2009黑星球獎」(Black Planet Award 2009)頒發給台塑集團的經營者們-王永慶家族、台塑董事長李志村及相關的經營管理者,該獎項歷年得獎者為美國孟山都、瑞士雀巢、美國Xe/黑水國際,分別是基因改造及農藥肥料工業、食品工業、軍火工業的龍頭廠商。

Texas's Calhoun and Wharton Counties, both hosts to some of Formosa's US factories, designated 19 May "Yung-Ching Wang Day" as an “honor” to the group, but Taiwan's NGOs have chosen this day to hold the Black Planet Award presentation “disgrace” ceremony. The ceremony will serve as the commencement for a series of the group’s actions with the goal of publicizing "Taiwan's Disgrace" throughout Taiwan, the birthplace of Formosa Plastics Group. The campaign hopes to alert Taiwan's policymakers, relevant government agencies, and society at large in order to prevent Taiwan ending up "conquered by petrochemicals." Member organizations of the union include ethecon Foundation, Texas Calhoun County Injured Workers Union, Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Mercy on the Earth Taiwan, the Green Party, Taiwan Watch, Green Formosa Front, Taiwan Matsu's Fish Conservation Union, Taiwan Sustainable Union, Yunlin County Offshore Aquaculture Association, Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries, Green Citizens' Action Alliance, and Raging Citizens Act Now.


The award ceremony will begin with the showing of a film in which US environmental activist Diane Wilson presents the award. Ms. Wilson is also the 2006 recipient of the positive Blue Planet Award. She became famous as the little shrimp who resisted the enormous whale that is Formosa Plastics. The Chinese language version of her book detailing the struggle, An Unreasonable Woman, is on sale in Taiwan, and she's already received the support of many impassioned individuals in printing and widely disseminating the book. Robin Winkler, chairperson of Wild at Heart, will read aloud the open letter from ethecon to Formosa Plastics, and Lee Ken-cheng, executive director of Mercy on the Earth, will read aloud an open letter from Taiwan's NGOs to Formosa Plastics.

頒獎典禮一開始,先播放美國環運人士Diane Wilson頒獎影片,黛安女士也是2006年正面獎項Blue Planet Award得主,她以小蝦米對抗台塑大鯨魚而聞名,中文版「不講理的女人」已經在台上市,並獲得許多熱心人士助印廣發。蠻野心足創會理事長文魯彬宣讀ethecon國際組職給台塑的公開信,地球公民協會執行長李根政則宣讀台灣民間團體給台塑的公開信。

As expected, representatives from the government and Formosa Plastics did not attend. An actor portraying President Ma Ying-jeou bestowed the award on the resurrected spirit of the late founder and chief executive of Formosa Plastics, Wang Yung-ching. Also 24 groundwater samples collected from private wells of people who live in the area around the Renwu Plant were presented. Pollution levels 300,000 times greater than government standards are ironclad proof that Formosa Plastics truly deserves this Black Planet Award. The government, however, persists in declining to order cessation of the plant's operations.


Gloria Hsu, professor of atmospheric science at National Taiwan University, pointed out that Formosa Plastics Group’s emissions account for more than a quarter of Taiwan's total greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental debt it creates is far greater than its contribution too economic growth. Chien Hsi-jie, Fair Tax Union spokesperson, complained that Formosa Plastics Group enjoys exhaustive tax breaks, and denounced Taiwan as an island of injustice on which the government has been hijacked by corporate villains. Herlin Hsieh, Secretary General of Taiwan Watch, explained that the entire life cycle of PVC is extensively damaging to the endocrine and reproductive systems of children, and Formosa Plastics is the world's number one producer of PVC. Huang Hsiao-ling, Secretary General of Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injury, further described the occupational injury situation of Formosa Plastics Group. Lin Jin-lang, chairperson of Yunlin County Offshore Aquaculture Association, pleaded for the local livelihoods that have been sacrificed for Taiwan's Sixth Naphtha Cracker petrochemical complex.


Pan Han-sheng, Green Party convener, stressed that if the advertisements are removed under pressure from Formosa Plastics, it would represent an expropriation of the people's freedom of expression and that the national constitution will become a corporate "royal decree" (財團的「王法」). He also announced that on 25 June environmental activists will attend Formosa Plastics Group’s stockholders meeting to bestow the award. It will be the third such small stockholder green action following others in 2000 and 2006.


Press Release Contact: Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, 2382-5789, Janis Wang


CODEPINK Brings Public Outrage to BP in Houston Exposes the Naked Truth Behind "Drill Baby Drill"

Friday, May 21st, 2010

WHERE: BP Headquarters 501 Westlake Park Blvd., Houston

WHEN: May 24, 2010 at 11:30 am

Naked, dripping with oil and dragging nets full of dead fish, CODEPINK activists will expose the atrocities of BP's latest and greatest drilling disaster on the Gulf Coast.

“We will lay bare the naked truth of ‘drill baby drill’,” says CODEPINK cofounder and environmentalist Jodie Evans. “What is more indecent–our bodies or the horrific effects of BP’s naked greed and our nation's obsession with oil?”

The protesters will mourn the deaths of the 11 workers and devastation of wildlife and livelihoods all along the Gulf Coast. They will call for BP to be held accountable, for an end to offshore drilling and for a total restructuring of our energy towards renewable sources.

“At the BP headquarters we will put our bodies on the line to hold BP accountable for the rape and plunder of our planet,” says Diane Wilson, a fourth generation fisherwoman from the Gulf. “We call for stripping BP of its corporate charter and seizing its assets to pay the victims, clean up the Gulf and try to restore the devastated wildlife.”

“We’ll be exposing BP for what it is—a criminal company that ignored crucial safety issues, cut corners, and spent millions lobbying Congress to fight regulations,” says CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. “BP has a sordid history of recklessly pursuing profits at the expense of workers’ lives and the environment, and it’s got to stop.”

An Open Letter from Taiwan Civil Society to the Formosa Plastics Group

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

On 19 May 2010 as civic groups in Taiwan present the ethecon 2009 Black Planet Award to the Formosa Plastics Group we collectively appeal to that enterprise to use its money in a manner that promotes dignity and a sense of responsibility.

We deliver this award to the Formosa Plastics Group for the reasons set out in this open letter in order that your true nature can be seen by all sectors of society.

1. Profits Before Human Rights; Profits Before Democracy

In 1989 the People’s Liberation Army bloodily suppressed a student movement in Tian An Men Square in what has come to be known as the Tian An Men Massacre. While the world gasped at the atrocities committed by the Chinese government and all foreign commerce and investment came to a halt, your enterprise, the Formosa Plastics Group became the first major company to invest in China without any thought or concern for the severe human rights abuses of your host. You displayed absolute disregard for democratic principles and indeed you profit from the butcher’s of Beijing.

2. “Formosa Plastics: We Make the Earth Miserable”

As the worlds largest producer of PVC you have spread your products around the world by giving producers of plastic piping, flooring, medial products, toys, shoes, stationary products and all other manner of goods, the means to befoul the health of present and future generations. The dangers of PVC throughout its life cycle are well established, including the fact that the production and disposal sites all contain high concentrations of dioxin and are sources for endocrine disruptors and environmental hormones causing sex changes in men and increases in the incidence of breast cancer in women. Yet despite the international consensus, Formosa Plastics, your attention has only one target and one goal – make as much money as possible with as little attention and expenditure on the social and natural environments.

3. You Have Wrung Taiwan’s Largest River Dry

Even with your vast wealth and power you have forced the government to build the Jiji Wier and a special pipeline so that you can extract 345,000 tonnes of water a day; your pipes that run through farmers’ fields and take their water leave them with no choice but to pump from the aquifers resulting in our country’s worst land subsidence and condemning the area to becoming a barren desert of dust storms.

4. You Blacken the Skies and the People’s Lungs

In June 2009 Public Health Professor Chan Chang-chuan of National Taiwan University reported a “significant correlation” between your Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant in Yunlin County and cancer rates among residents in the nearby townships of Mailiao, Taisi, Dongshih, Lunbei and Sihhu.

While you may sneer at academics, you can not deny that beginning with the discharge of VOCs from this plant in 1999 the incidence of liver cancer in Taisi Township has increased thirty percent and over-all cancer incidence increased eighty percent. In order to avoid the stench from your toxic discharge, school children must plug their noses and cover their mouths with facemasks. You blacken the skies and blacken the viscera of all who live within reach of your effluents.

5. You Disregard Global Warming as You Produce Even More Emissions

Through its fourth phase, the Sixth Naphtha Cracker Plant (6th NCP), along with your neighboring power plant (the world’s fifth largest CO2 polluting power plant) produce sixty eight million tonnes of CO2 annually, one quarter of Taiwan’s CO2 emissions. But you aren’t satisfied with this achievement, as you go forward with plans for the fifth phase of the 6th NCP ignoring the crisis facing humanity and your contribution to climate chaos.

6. Your Legacy of Polluting Water and Soil will go on for Millennia

In April 2002 vinyl chloride levels in the groundwater at your plant in the Lin Yuan Industrial Park outside of Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan were in excess of standards resulting in the declaration of a 32 hectare plant as a “control site”; in March 2007 10.8 hectares of your Cianjheng plant was cited as a soil pollution control site due to excessive levels of zinc and mercury contamination.

Then in March 2010 the news broke out of one of the worst groundwater pollution cases in Taiwan’s history: – the groundwater beneath the VCM plant producing PVC your Renwu Plant tested for levels of 1,2-dichloroethane at 302,000 (three hundred and two thousand) times the legal limit, ten other toxic substances were far in excess of the standards, and the 35.38 hectares had already been declared as a “remediation site”. You were aware in 2002 of the problem, but engaged in a cover up for eight years threatening the health of all inhabitants in the area as well as the 1,390 hectares of farmland in the plant’s vicinity.

7. The Ten Thousand Year Legacy of Your Industrial Waste

In 1998 with blatant disregard for the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal your company surreptitiously shipped 2,799 tonnes of mercury contaminated waste to Kampuchea killing at least one worker who was exposed, and resulting in evacuations of thousands of others bringing the entire nation of Taiwan into international disrepute; in early 1999 another 8,700 tonnes of mercury-laden hazardous waste was discovered in the township of Liyushan in Pingtung, southern Taiwan and while all the evidence pointed to your culpability, in the end you collected a stipend from the government in the amount of 90 million dollars (about 3 million US dollars). The lunatics are indeed running the asylum!

8. You Are Liars and Cheats

In order to win the support from the people of Yunlin County, for your offshore petrochemical park-currently the site of the 6th NCP, you promised to build a medical center, a retirement area, shopping centers, nursing school, transportation center, a seaside resort, the Chang Geng Memorial Hospital and a whole new Mailiao City. You promised to bring 37,500 employment opportunities to the area. These promises have all ended up as bounced checks. How are you any different from a gang of con artists?

To the Black Hearted Formosa Plastics Group: Where is your conscience?

You have enjoyed to the maximum the support and subsidization by the Taiwan government while the legislature does what it needs to support you. Yet, you have nothing to show as far as giving back to either the land or the people of Taiwan. Your voracious appetite for growth continues to escalate unabated, externalizing the social and environmental costs while engaging in a protracted war on transparency and truth, a campaign of lies and deceit, corrupting society into one that asks only about profit, one that never questions values. Formosa Plastics, you have truly arrived at the pinnacle of avarice and evil, taking your place as the leader among the blackest of the black hearted Taiwanese industrialists.

Your vast wealth comes from fossil fuels, but even if you were to spit out the entire amount of money that you have made from this exploitation, it would constitute but a tiny fraction of the cost of restoring the skies, the rivers, the ocean and the land.

As you scramble over the estate of the deceased Y.C. Wang, we hope you will at least give some consideration to the environmental debts that your company has incurred to the Earth and its inhabitants during Y.C. Wang’s lifetime.

This open letter is addressed to Formosa Plastics, but it is also an appeal to the government of Taiwan to remove the cangue of misery that it has been working, through its laws and dispensations, tailor made at Formosa Plastics behest, ruining the lives of untold numbers of our current and future generations.

And to Formosa Plastics, we conclude with a bitter plea that you reflect on your behaviour, put aside your weapons of slaughter, and stop your pillaging of Taiwan at once, and for all.