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LETTER: Formosa Plastics violating state COVID-19 guidelines, endangering local community

September 10th, 2020

Chief Butch Browning, State Fire Marshal
Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal
8181 Independence Blvd.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

Courtney Phillips, Secretary
Louisiana Department of Health
P.O. Box 629
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802

Sent via email and U.S. mail

Dear Chief Browning and Dr. Phillips:

We appreciate your work to protect us from the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains an immense threat to the health and safety of St. James Parish residents and to all of us in Louisiana. St. James, St. John, and other River Parishes are among the most vulnerable regions in the country as shown by some of the highest per capita coronavirus death rates nationwide. Despite our vulnerability and the high fatality rate,¹ workers on the Formosa Plastics site are not following Covid-19 precautions.

#1 Formosa Plastics is not following Louisiana public health guidelines,² including social distancing and masking.

The workers on site at Formosa Plastics are not being required to physically distance or wear masks. Attached below is photographic evidence of the construction taken on 8/14/20, 8/20/20, and 9/4/2020. Formosa Plastics’ failure to comply with state guidelines risks spreading the virus when workers return to their homes and communities and when they enter stores and hotels in St. James Parish and the river parishes.

#2 This contradicts the safety protocol that Formosa Plastics conveyed to the public.

In a full page ad on June 18th, 2020, the company not only promised to follow government guidance on masking and social distancing, but to take additional measures as well. See the ad segment below; link to full ad is in the footnote.³


#3 This is repeated, persistent behavior that takes place across the entire work site.

We observed the site over a three week period, and at no time did we see workers wearing masks on the site location. Conversely, on Juneteenth when St. James residents commemorated the sacred gravesites on the proposed Formosa site, Formosa Plastics mandated that attendees wear masks and have their temperature taken.


#4 COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented among Formosa Plastics workers and contractors.

At Formosa’s Point Comfort plant in Texas, more than 20 workers tested positive for coronavirus, eleven of whom were contractor employees.⁴ Given the company’s flagrant risk to our health, we urge that construction at Formosa Plastics’ site be stopped immediately. We respectfully ask for your response by Wednesday, September 16th.


Sharon Lavigne
President, RISE St. James

Larry Sorapuru Jr.
Concerned Citizens of St. John

Elizabeth Soychak
Coalition Against Death Alley

Clare Giesen
Coalition Against Death Alley

Gregory T. Manning
Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition

Sylvia McKenzie
Justice and Beyond

Anne Rolfes
Louisiana Bucket Brigade

Jane Patton
Center for International Environmental Law

Michael Esealuka
Healthy Gulf

Darryl Malek-Wiley
Sierra Club, New Orleans Office

Renate Heurich
350 New Orleans

Ben Peterson
Extinction Rebellion New Orleans

Grace Treffinger
Sunrise Movement New Orleans


Governor John Bel Edwards
St. James Parish President Pete Dufresne
Council Member Alvin “Shark” St. Pierre
Council Member Jason Amato
Council Member Ryan Louque
Council Member Mason Bland
Council Member Clyde Cooper
Council Member Vondra Etienne-Steib
Council Member Donald Nash
Janile Parks, Public Relations, FG LA LLC


²State of Louisiana, State of Emergency for COVID-19: Phase 2 of Resilient Louisiana

³Formosa Group Advertisement, St. James News Examiner-Enterprise

Victoria Advocate


August 14th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127

August 14th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127

August 14th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127


August 20th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127


August 20th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127

September 4th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127

September 4th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127

September 4th, 2020. Formosa Plastics site, Highway 3127