Formosa Plant May Still Be Releasing Plastic Pollution in Texas After $50M Settlement, Activists Find
On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa in 2017, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Diane Wilson kayaking to the fence line of Formosa's Point Comfort plant to check for nurdles newly discharged from the plant on Jan. 15. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
Their suit against Formosa Plastics Corp. USA resulted in a $50-million-dollar settlement and a range of conditions in an agreement known as a consent decree. Key among the conditions was the company's promise to halt releasing the nurdles it manufactures into local waterways leading to the Texas Gulf Coast by Jan. 15.
Formosa's plastics plant is seen dominating the landscape in Point Comfort, Texas. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
Wilson described the occasion as "day one of the zero discharge settlement." As of that date, Formosa could be fined up to $15,000 a day if it were found still discharging nurdles. That would put the multi-billion-dollar plastics maker in violation of the court settlement made after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt determined the company had violated the Clean Water Act by discharging plastic pellets and PVC powder into Lavaca Bay and Cox Creek in a June 27 ruling last year.
The deal, signed by Judge Hoyt in December, represents the U.S.'s largest settlement in a Clean Water Act lawsuit brought by private individuals against an industrial polluter. The settlement mandates that both Formosa and the plaintiffs agree to a monitor, remediation consultant, engineer, and trustee for ongoing monitoring of the plant.
Diane Wilson is seen with volunteers before their meeting across the street from Formosa's Point Comfort manufacturing plant. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
After calling the group's meeting to order, Wilson gave an update on how requirements of the consent decree were progressing. The volunteer team of nurdle monitors, who have been collecting nurdles discharged by the plant for the last four years, listened eagerly. Wilson said that Formosa had missed the Jan. 15 deadline to deliver the waivers they needed to sign, which would grant them permission to monitor on the company's property along the fence line. Without the signed forms, the group put off their on-the-ground monitoring trip. Instead, they headed for the banks of Cox Creek, where Wilson set off in a kayak to check on one of the plant's outfalls.
Within 10 minutes she collected an estimated 300 of the little plastic pellets. Wilson says she will save them as evidence, along with any additional material the group collects, to present to the official — and yet-to-be-selected — monitor.
Wilson received the waiver forms from Formosa a day after the deadline. The group planned to set out by foot on Jan. 18, which would allow them to cover more ground on their next monitoring trip. They hope to check all of the facility's 14 outtakes where nurdles could be still be escaping. Any nurdles discharged on or after Jan. 15 in the area immediately surrounding the plant would be in violation of the court settlement.
Ronnie Hamrick picks up a mixture of new and legacy nurdles near Formosa's Point Comfort plant. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
Pointing along the creek's edge, Ronnie Hamrick, a member of the San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper and former Formosa employee, showed me how to distinguish new plastic pellets from the legacy nurdles from past discharges. The new ones are brighter and white compared to the older ones, which take on a dull gray color. Old nurdles were plentiful along the creek's banks despite cleanup crews deployed by Formosa in that area. Newer ones were easy to find in the water after Hamrick pushed a rake into the marsh, stirring them up from below the water's surface in Cox Creek.
Ronnie Hamrick holds a few of the countless nurdles that litter the banks of Cox Creek near Formosa's Point Comfort facility. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
When Wilson returned from her kayak, she showcased her find: The nurdles she had just collected from the Formosa outfall were bright white, making them easy to distinguish from the older ones littering the bank where she had launched her kayak. She plans to turn them over as evidence of newly discharged nurdles to the official monitor once one is selected in accordance to the consent decree.
Lawsuit Against Formosa’s Planned Louisiana Plant
On that same afternoon, Wilson learned that conservation and community groups in Louisiana had sued the Trump administration, challenging federal environmental permits for Formosa's planned $9.4 billion plastics complex in St. James Parish.
The news made Wilson smile. "I hope they win. The best way to stop the company from polluting is not to let them build another plant," she told me.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court against the Army Corps of Engineers, accusing the Corps of failing to disclose environmental damage and public health risks and failing to adequately consider environmental damage from the proposed plastics plant. Wilson had met some of the Louisiana-based activists last year when a group of them had traveled to Point Comfort and protested with her outside Formosa's plastics plant that had begun operations in 1983. Among them was Sharon Lavigne, founder of the community group Rise St. James, who lives just over a mile and a half from the proposed plastics complex in Louisiana.
Back then, Wilson offered them encouragement in their fight. A few months after winning her own case last June, she gave them boxes of nurdles she had used in her case against Formosa. The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environmental groups in the Louisiana lawsuit, transported the nurdles to St. James. The hope was that these plastic pellets would help environmental advocates there convince Louisiana regulators to deny Formosa's request for air permits required for building its proposed St. James plastics complex that would also produce nurdles. On Jan. 6, Formosa received those permits, but it still has a few more steps before receiving full approval for the plant.
Anne Rolfes, founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, holding up a bag of nurdles discharged from Formosa's Point Comfort, Texas plant, at a protest against the company's proposed St. James plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Dec. 10, 2019. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
In their Jan. 15 lawsuit, the groups, which also include Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Healthy Gulf, point out that a Texas judge called Formosa's Point Comfort plant a "serial offender" of the Clean Water Act. They also cite another Formosa facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which has been in violation of the Clean Air Act every quarter since 2009.
Construction underway to expand Formosa's Point Comfort plant. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
The new plant slated for St. James Parish "is expected to emit and discharge a variety of pollutants, including carcinogens and endocrine disrupters, into the air and water; [and] discharge plastic into the Mississippi River and other waterbodies," the lawsuit alleges.
Silhouette of Formosa's Point Comfort Plant looming over the rural landscape. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
DeSmog's Sharon Kelly reported that out of all the new or expanding U.S. refineries, liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects, and petrochemical plants seeking air permits, Formosa's St. James plant would top the list of air polluters.
"Wilson's victory against Formosa was very encouraging," Sharon Lavigne told me over the phone. She plans to cite it as one of the many reasons why the St. James Parish Council should reverse its 2018 decision to grant Formosa a land use permit for the sprawling plastics facility. She and others will address the council over a multitude of issues at its upcoming Jan. 21 meeting.
From the Gulf Coast to Europe
Just a day after Wilson found apparently new nurdles in Point Comfort, the Plastic Soup Foundation, an advocacy group based in Amsterdam, took legal steps to stop plastic pellet pollution in Europe. On behalf of the group, environmental lawyers submitted an enforcement request to a Dutch environmental protection agency, which is responsible for regulating the cleanup of nurdles polluting waterways in the Netherlands.
The foundation is the first organization in Europe to take legal steps to stop plastic pellet pollution. It cites in its enforcement request to regulators Wilson's victory in obtaining a "zero discharge" promise from Formosa and is seeking a similar result against Ducor Petrochemicals, the Rotterdam plastic producer. Its goal is to prod regulators into forcing Ducor to remove tens of millions of plastic pellets from the banks immediately surrounding its petrochemical plant.
Detail of a warning sign near the Point Comfort Formosa plant. The waterways near the plant are polluted by numerous industrial facilities in the area. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
Besides polluting waterways, the ongoing build-out of the petrochemical and plastics industry doesn't align with efforts to keep global warming in check.
Wilson and her fellow volunteers plan to keep monitoring the Point Comfort plant until it stops discharging the tiny plastic pellets into Texas waters entirely.
Nurdles on Cox Creek's bank on Jan. 15. Wilson hopes her and her colleagues' work of the past four years will help prevent the building of more plastics plants, including the proposed Formosa plant in St. James Parish. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
I reached out to Formosa about whether it was aware its Point Comfort plant was apparently still discharging nurdles but didn't receive a reply before publication.
A sign noting the entrance to the Formosa Wetlands Walkway at Port Lavaca Beach. The San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper describes the messaging as an example of greenwashing. Julie Dermansky / DeSmogBlog
Reposted with permission from DeSmogBlog.
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The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
Do you feel embarrassed due to the foul odor coming from your mouth? Or your oral hygiene isn't as good as before, and you are suffering from gingivitis (inflammation of gums)?
Well, these oral problems are skyrocketing, and even young people are suffering from oral issues that result in a lack of confidence.
It's common to change your toothpaste by seeing the TV commercials that claim to free you from bad breath or sensitive teeth, but these products don't always work.
Fighting oral issues isn't that easy, even if you religiously follow what your primary school teacher has taught, to "Brush two times a day!"
Well, there is a much-hyped supplement in the market that claims to help you fight all of these oral issues: The Steel Bite Pro.
Steel Bite Pro is an oral supplement that claims to cure bad breath and other such oral issues like sensitivity and gum problems.
But does the supplement really work, or is it just like the useless toothpaste that you tried before? Let's find out in this review.
Who Should Use Steel Bite Pro?
The best part about Steel Bite Pro is that anyone can use the supplement to get rid of oral issues. The supplement contains natural ingredients such as turmeric, zinc, alfalfa, jujube seeds, and much more, so there are no chemicals at all.
No matter whether you are 20 or 60, you can use this supplement to overcome oral issues and get the confidence back that you are missing due to bad odor and sensitive teeth.
Steel Bite Pro Review: Overview of the Supplement
Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural supplement that contains a mix of natural supplements to rebuild your gums and teeth.
The supplement contains 29 different foods that help you reduce the gum pain and other dental problems you have been facing for years.
More than 55,000 people have used Steel Bite Pro till now, and the results of the supplement are pretty impressive. Furthermore, the supplement is prepared in an FDA-approved facility in the USA.
It is available in the form of pills that you can consume anytime, so using the supplement is incredibly convenient. There are numerous benefits of using the Steel Bite Pro as it solves a plethora of dental problems.
Pros and Cons: Steel Bite Pro
To understand the supplement better, it is essential to know about its pros and cons.
Convenient to Use
The dietary supplement is convenient to use as it comes in the form of pills. You can take the pill anytime, even when you are in your office or somewhere else. Now there is no need to use multiple kinds of toothpaste and splurge money by visiting a dentist.
All the ingredients present inside the supplement are natural, and there are no chemicals that can harm your teeth or gums.
When you compare the cost of 1 bottle with the cost of a special toothpaste with the fee that your dentist charges, Steel Bite Pro will seem much more affordable. The supplement is available in multiple packages, so you will find it affordable to use.
No Side Effects at All
There are no side effects to using Steel Bite Pro, so you can rest assured that you won't face any headaches or other issues while curing the oral issues. The reason why Steel Bite Pro has no side effects is due to its natural ingredients.
Designed by Experts
The supplement is designed by experts that have been in the industry for years.
No Additional Medicines Are Required
When you are using Steel Bite Pro, you can avoid using other medicines that you have been taking to cure oral issues.
Attacks on the Pain
There are several ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro that attack tooth and gum pain so that you get some instant relief with the supplement.
Comes With a Money Back Guarantee
The supplement comes with a 60-day money back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund if you find the supplement isn't working for you, or if it isn't doing what the manufacturer has promised.
You Can Purchase It From the Official Site Only
The supplement is only available for purchase from the Official Website. Sometimes the supplement gets out of stock, so you have to wait for it to get back in stock.
A Single Bottle Costs More
If you buy a single bottle of the supplement, it'll cost you more than other packages with multiple bottles.
Ingredients in Steel Bite Pro
All the ingredients present in Steel Bite Pro are natural and have proven benefits for humans. Here is a list of supplements explained in detail and how they can benefit you if you start using Steel Bite Pro.
As per a study, there are innumerable benefits of using turmeric on your teeth. The natural herb has antimicrobial properties that help remove the plaque effectively from the teeth, exterminate bacteria and help cure sensitivity.
Moreover, turmeric is good for fighting oral inflammation issues. When applied on teeth, the ingredient gives instant relief from pain and is effective in curing mouth ulcers as well.
Berberine is a natural herb with proven antioxidant power to help you get rid of microorganisms developing inside the mouth. Furthermore, the ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties and is good for curing oral issues caused due to viruses and bacteria.
It is another natural ingredient that is used in a range of health supplements due to its healing power. The ingredient naturally heals the gums and the damage caused to the teeth by bacteria and microorganisms.
As per a study, it helps reduce the infection, oral pain, and cures other dental issues.
Your liver has a significant impact on your oral health, and that's where milk thistle works. The natural ingredient eliminates toxins from the liver and detoxifies your mouth as well.
Here is a study that proves how milk thistle is beneficial in detoxifying the liver.
The decaying of teeth is the initial phase of damage caused by bacteria thriving inside your mouth. Alfalfa works by reducing tooth sensitivity drastically and repairs the tooth decay caused by the bacteria.
It even stops the bacteria from growing further so you can expect good oral health.
A lot of natural supplements for teeth contain ginger because of its benefits on the teeth and the stomach. This ingredient present in the Steel Bite Pro reduces nausea and inflammation.
As per this study, there are umpteen other benefits of ginger as well, such as it maintains the pH inside your mouth.
Jujube seeds are good for boosting the immunity. Also, the ingredient has excellent antioxidant properties and is rich in Vitamin C, which is beneficial for the teeth and overall oral health.
Dandelion is a natural ingredient extracted from herbs. The ingredient is rich in minerals and has immense benefits such as fighting the bacteria and preventing the infections occurring inside your mouth.
Zinc is essential for teeth, and that is why many toothpaste brands advertise that their product contains a good amount of zinc. Further, zinc is a natural immunity booster and fights against bacteria to prevent gum disease and cavities.
Moreover, zinc repairs the enamel on your teeth that's damaged due to toothpaste or any other reasons. Here is a study that shows the benefits of zinc for your teeth and mouth.
Chicory root acts as a catalyst and increases the effectiveness of other ingredients. The reason why you get instant relief from pain after using Steel Bite Pro is due to the presence of chicory root in the pills.
Bacteria result in bad odor and can create cavities in the teeth. Furthermore, some bacteria result in tooth decay and harm the gums. The celery seeds fight these bacteria and prevent further growth.
To stay healthy, the teeth need to absorb the minerals present in the saliva. When your teeth are damaged for any reason, they stop absorbing the minerals, and the damage continues further.
Yellow dock helps the teeth to absorb the minerals while reducing the inflammation. Various studies have proven the efficacy of yellow dock for teeth and gums, and it is a natural and effective ingredient to keep the teeth healthy.
Raspberry, Chanca Piedra, and Artichoke
These three natural ingredients have similar properties and contribute a lot to the effectiveness of Steel Bite Pro. The ingredients have good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate.
The purifying agents will remove bacteria and other impurities from the mouth so that the other ingredients work well by repairing the teeth and gums.
The worst thing about oral issues is the pain that you have to go through. Steel Bite Pro claims to help with the pain as it contains feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever. The ingredient suppresses oral and dental pain so you will feel better instantly.
As per a study, there are some other benefits of feverfew, because it is a medicinal plant that suppresses other pains as well. Also, there are no side effects of feverfew at all.
The root of the burdock plant comes loaded with antioxidants that improve the gum health and the overall health of your mouth.
The best thing about Steel Bite Pro is that the ingredients are present in exact quantities, so you can rest assured that there will be no side effects. Every ingredient is tested in the labs for its efficiency, and that's what makes the Steel Bite Pro a considerable option if you want to improve your oral and dental health.
How Does Steel Bite Pro Work?
It is crucial to understand how the supplement works so that you can decide whether to invest in it or not. Below is a step by step process that will help you understand Steel Bite Pro on the go.
When you start consuming the supplement, the pills break down in your mouth. The ingredients then mix with saliva to perform their particular actions.
The ingredients fight the bacteria and heal issues such as wounds while reducing the inflammation caused in the mouth.
The supplement cements the root of the teeth so that there are no further oral and dental issues. Also, it heals the gums and repairs the enamel to provide you relief from sensitivity.
The minerals present in these ingredients strengthen the crown area of the teeth while repairing the cracks so that the damage can be stopped.
The supplement also has some impact on your overall health as the ingredients detoxify the liver by flushing away the toxins.
Consuming the supplement regularly will help you maintain the shield on the teeth that fights against bacteria and microorganisms. Also, it improves the condition of the teeth and curtails bad breath.
The working of Steel Bite Pro is really simple, as there are no complex ingredients present in the supplement. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is consume the pill regularly to keep your oral and dental health up to the mark.
Benefits of Steel Bite Pro
There are many benefits of using Steel Bite Pro since it is an all-natural supplement that has no side effects at all. Here are some benefits you need to consider before buying it.
Prevents Bleeding and Improves Gum Health
The reason why your teeth bleed is due to the loose gums. The space between the tooth and the gum results in bleeding, and that's where Steel Bite Pro helps. The supplement tightens the gums so that there is no bleeding at all.
Whitens the Teeth Naturally
The ingredients present in the supplement, such as zinc and milk thistle, whiten the teeth naturally. There is no need to invest in expensive teeth whitening toothpaste if you are using Steel Bite Pro.
Reduces Bad Breath
The supplement contains ingredients that improve the overall health of the teeth, and it automatically reduces bad breath.
Helps Cure Tooth Pain
Steel Bite Pro has feverfew, which is a natural pain reliever ingredient. The ingredient cures tooth and gum pain and can have instant results after you consume Steel Bite Pro.
Side Effects of Using Steel Bite Pro
You may find it surprising, but Steel Bite Pro has no side effects at all as the supplement contains natural ingredients and has exact quantities so that there are no ill effects on your health. If you keep using the supplement as prescribed, then it can have some excellent results.
Who Should Refrain from Steel Bite Pro?
Steel Bite Pro is an all-natural dietary supplement to improve your dental and oral health.
Anyone can use the supplement, including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. There are no harms of using the supplement.
However, it would be great to consult a doctor before using the supplement to find out if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Dosage and Tips to Start
To get the most from Steel Bite Pro, you should consume two pills with water every day. Take both capsules together anytime that's convenient for you.
To get the best results, follow a brushing regime, and massage your teeth regularly with some good-quality oil to increase the effectiveness of the pills.
Where to Buy Steel Bite Pro, and Guarantees?
You can only buy Steel Bite Pro from the Official Site, as the supplement is not available anywhere else for purchase. You can choose from three available options:
●1 bottle (60 pills) $69
●Three bottles (180 pills) $117
●Six bottles (360 pills) $294 (Best Deal)
You get a 60-day money back guarantee with all the packages, no matter if you go for one bottle or six bottles. You are eligible to claim the full refund within 60 days of the date of purchase.
Steel Bite Pro Reviews: Closing Thoughts
After this definitive review, it will be easier for you to find out whether you should use Steel Bite Pro or not. The supplement contains a mix of 29 natural ingredients that have proven benefits and are tested in labs.
It is essential to get rid of oral and dental issues before things get out of control and you have no option left despite visiting a dentist.
Getting a good quality supplement is essential, so Steel Bite Pro is a viable option if you need a supplement with no side effects.
Anyone can use this supplement irrespective of age, sex, and medical conditions. Lastly, buy the supplement only from the official site so that you can easily claim the refund if required.
A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.
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