More symbolic than effective, the New Orleans City Council yest said no to the Formosa plant.
The New Orleans City Council expressed unanimous opposition Thursday to the planned Formosa Plastics plant in St. James Parish, raising concerns about how the $9.4 billion complex would affect the health and environment of nearby residents and those of the council’s constituents 65 miles downriver. Louisiana and St. James officials have approved the company’s plans to build the plant at Welcome, on the west bank near the Sunshine Bridge. The New Orleans resolution won’t prevent its construction, but council members said they felt compelled to weigh in on the issue. “What happens upstream is going to reach us down here,” said council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer, who sponsored the resolution. “The plant might be in St. James, but the environmental effects have the potential to spread over a much larger area.”Nola.com
Environmental groups have opposed the plant that the State and Parish support. The support is pure economic while the opposing focus more on the health and safety aspects.
The Formosa plant has been opposed by some environmental groups, including RISE St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. About 100 people from both New Orleans and St. James opposed to the Formosa project wrote in to the City Council. The issue also plays into the larger debate over industrial plants in the River Parishes, an area that some environment and health advocates call “Cancer Alley.” Industry advocates say the state’s tumor registry doesn’t show any clear cluster of cancer in the chemical corridor, and state officials tout that as evidence that the plants pose no unusual health risk. Formosa had urged the City Council to scrap the resolution, and a spokesperson for the company said earlier this week that the project had already gone through a “rigorous environmental and operating permitting process and will also comply with multiple laws, regulation and permits designed to protect public health.”
Council member Cyndi Nguyen noted that her family in Vietnam had been affected by the plastic pollution from a Formosa plant. New Orleans was subject to the same in the Mississippi River off Napoleon Avenue. Ingesting the plastic nurdles by fish has the restaurant and hospitality industry upset as well.
“We cannot allow the promise of economic development to negatively affect the livelihood of our residents,” Nguyen said.