Blowing Smoke: Chemical Companies Say "Trust Us"' But Environmental and Workplace Safety Violations Belie Their Rhetoric

Jan 13, 2016 | by
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Large chemical companies and their major trade association and lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council, say they can maintain high safety standards through self-regulation and voluntary actions. Our report finds this isn't the case. Voluntary standards don't work, and existing regulations are not effectively enforced.

Chemical manufacturing uses dangerous substances that can be hazardous to the health and well-being of chemical plant workers and to the residents who live nearby.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and leaders in the chemical industry have fought stronger government oversight of chemical manufacturing for decades, arguing that the rules currently regulating toxic chemicals are adequate.

The ACC runs a program called "Responsible Care®" that purportedly helps member companies meet safety and environmental standards and implement industry best practices. So, is it working? Are these companies representing "the best of the best" in the chemical industry?

Our report found that facilities owned by ACC member companies are leaders – in violating our nation's environmental and workplace safety standards.

While examining workplace safety and environmental violations, we looked at 12 large companies in the chemical industry that collectively own and operate 644 facilities in the U.S. Seven of these companies (DuPont, Arkema, Mitsubishi, Honeywell, BASF, Dow, and Chemtura) are members of the industry's main trade association, the ACC.

While the ACC claims their member companies are meeting safety standards, we found serious violations at these seven ACC member-companies. DuPont topped the list with 125 serious violations at the plants they own. Additionally, 78 serious violations were found at Arkema's inspected plants.