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Texas Residents Urge Rejection of World's Largest Plastics Plant: 'Millions of Gallons of Toxic Wastewater a Day' Would Be Dumped Into Corpus Christi Bay

Aerial view of Corpus Christi, Texas. Simiprof / Wikimedia Commons

The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 1,100 Texas residents are demanding that Texas regulators reconsider issuing a wastewater permit to a project that would be the world's largest plastics plant.

The facility, funded by ExxonMobil and the Saudi Arabian government, would discharge more than 13 million gallons a day of toxic wastewater. It will exceed legal pollution standards, as the Center for Biological Diversity notes in a petition filed Wednesday with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.


The plant, which would receive more than $1 billion in state tax breaks, would "crack" the ethane in natural gas to produce almost 2 million tons of ethylene and polyethylene annually. Polyethylene pellets are the basic building blocks of plastic products. The Texas plant is part of a multibillion-dollar push by the fossil fuel industry to increase global plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade.

"This facility will dump millions of gallons of toxic wastewater a day into beautiful Corpus Christi Bay. That's right in the middle of critical habitat for endangered whooping cranes," said Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Texas and its wildlife will pay a heavy price just to produce more cheap plastic that will litter our oceans and landscapes. Texans don't want toxins in their bays and rivers, and they don't want plastics polluting our oceans and seafood."

Wednesday was the deadline for concerned citizens to request the commission reconsider its April 9 decision to issue a wastewater permit for the plastic plant. The Center for Biological Diversity, along with more than 1,148 Texas residents who supported the online petition, submitted a request for reconsideration. In addition to the wastewater permit, the facility must obtain several air permits.

It will also contribute to plastic pollution, which has become so pervasive that plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Marine plastic pollution affected at least 267 species, including 86 percent of sea turtle species and 43 percent of marine mammal species. Large whales are often found with bellies full of plastic after they die.

Little bits of plastic get mistaken for food and eaten by fish, sea turtles, birds and other wildlife. These animals often choke on the items, or experience feelings of fullness and then starve to death.

Plastic also attracts and absorbs toxic chemicals from the marine environment, increasing the hazards to any animal that eats them, including those higher on the food chain, including humans. Other animals become entangled in plastic garbage and drown.

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