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Lunch and Learn: Citizen Science and Accountability: A Rare Victory Over an International Plastics Manufacturer

  • 03/28/2024
  • 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
  • Virtual (Link will be provided in the confirmation email)
  • 55


Registration is closed

Citizen Science and Accountability:

A Rare Victory Over an International Plastics Manufacturer

Join us for a virtual Lunch and Learn with Jeremy Landon Conkle, Ph.D., a Senior Chemist/Toxicologist with the Delaware River Basin Commission and Giselle Mazmanian, an associate at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP (MGKF). Ms. Mazmanian will discuss the legal aspects of a suit under the Clean Water Act and Dr. Conkle will be presenting on the citizen science and follow-up associated with a rare victory for the citizens over an international plastics manufacturer.


Members: Free member benefit

Non-members: $10*


Coastal Texas is home to numerous pre-production plastic manufacturers that make and ship their products globally. This production and its transportation have resulted in the ubiquitous presence of pellets in several bays and the entire Texas coastline. Contamination was exceptionally high in the Matagorda/Lavaca Bay system, home to a manufacturer that produces polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride. A small citizen group in that community successfully sued the manufacturer under the Clean Water Act, resulting in a $50 million settlement after they were found guilty. The manufacturer also agreed to re-engineer their stormwater and wastewater systems to achieve zero plastic discharge. This promising outcome was only possible after several years of daily sampling by a small citizen group. They collected >2,500 samples documenting pellets and plastic powder and are still sampling almost daily to ensure the manufacturer does not violate the settlement. I will discuss my experience as an expert witness in this case and how I used my environmental chemistry and ecology background to help win the largest Clean Water Act settlement by a private entity in U.S. history.

Texas Tribune: https://www.texastribune.org/2019/10/15/formosa-plastics-pay-50-million-texas-clean-water-act-lawsuit/

Presenters Biography:

Jeremy Landon Conkle, Ph.D.

Dr. Conkle is a Sr. Chemist/Toxicologist at the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). A former Associate Professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, he earned dual bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry at Longwood University, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston, a Ph.D. in Oceanography & Coastal Sciences from Louisiana State University. He was a Post-doctoral Scholar at the University of California Riverside. His research focuses on contaminant presence, fate, and impacts in aquatic systems. His early research examined contaminants like pharmaceuticals and personal care products in wastewater treatment wetlands, and their uptake in crops irrigated with treated wastewater. In his previous faculty position at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, his lab focused on plastic and microplastic debris in rivers and coastal waters. At DRBC, he is continuing research on emerging contaminants, including PFAS, microplastics, tire wear particles, and 6-PPDq, while delving into the Delaware River Basin's water quality policy realm. From 2017 to 2020, Dr. Conkle was an expert witness in the Wilson vs. Formosa Plastics Corporation trial, where Formosa was found guilty of illegally discharging hundreds of tons of pre-production plastic pellets and powder into Lavaca and Matagorda Bays. This is the largest settlement ever for a Clean Water Act case brought by a private entity. But more importantly, Dr. Conkle is a proud husband and father of 2 boys.

Giselle Mazmanian

Giselle is an associate at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox LLP (MGKF), where she counsels clients on a range of environmental matters across sectors, including advising on environmental law aspects of transactions, regulatory compliance and environmental litigation. Prior to joining MGKF, Giselle worked as an environmental law associate for a leading Canadian law firm in Toronto for nearly a decade. Giselle has a unique understanding of the factors that impact environmental law, thanks to her previous experience working as an environmental scientist and consultant. Now, she brings her technical expertise and science-based perspective to her legal practice to help clients assess risk, develop pragmatic solutions and build strong legal and technical cases.  In her free time, Giselle enjoys hitting the tennis court and going for a run.

 *Proceeds, less any credit card fees, will go to our Scholarship and Grant Program. 

Photo Credit: Don Pearse Photographers, Inc., http://donpearsephotographers.com/

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