For Immediate Release
Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace, (202) 680-3798 cell;
Rick Hind, Legislative Director, Greenpeace, (202) 413-8513;
Mae Stevens, Policy Analyst, Greenpeace, (202) 319-2454
CLOROX to Eliminate Chlorine Disaster Risks to 13 Million Americans
Decision Makes Case for New Security Law as Vote Looms in Congress
Clorox to convert all of its factories using chlorine gas to safer
chemical processes. Clorox CEO Donald Knauss said the conversion will,
"strengthen our operations and add another layer of security." The
first plant will convert within six months and all others will phase
out chlorine gas over the next few years. Once the conversion is
completed at all seven U.S. Clorox plants, the company will have
eliminated catastrophic risks from chlorine gas to 13.6 million
Americans, living downwind of its facilities. This conversion will also
eliminate equally disastrous risks posed by the transport of 90-ton
rail cars of chlorine gas.
"By leading the way in eliminating
the potential consequences of a catastrophic terrorist attack or
accident, Clorox's announcement also provides Congress with compelling
new evidence to enact chemical plant security legislation," said Rick
Hind, Greenpeace legislative director. Coincidentally, chemical
security legislation (H.R. 2868) is slated for a vote in the House of
Representatives this Wednesday. If enacted it would require the highest
risk chemical plants to convert to safer cost-effective chemicals
wherever feasible just as Clorox plans to do.
"By ending the use of chlorine gas, Clorox also proves that eliminating
these risks is both technically feasible and a smart business
decision. Switching to safer substances not only reduces liability and
regulatory obligations, it also enhances profitability and long-term
job security. Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, the Clorox
announcement leaves no excuse for other industry giants such as Dow
and DuPont. Their plants put potentially millions of Americans at
risk. View Dow map and Dupont map. Given the time it can take to convert, it is urgent that these firms start following Clorox's lead now," said Hind.
In February, Greenpeace wrote Knauss asking for a meeting to discuss
ways to eliminate these risks. Greenpeace sent similar letters to Dow and Dupont.
Soon after, Knauss responded and invited Greenpeace to a meeting with
him and other executives at their Oakland, California headquarters in
May. At the meeting Knauss unveiled their plans and explained the
economic, security and safety benefits that executives factored into
their decision. Following the meeting, Greenpeace was also given a
tour of the Fairfield, California plant, which will be the first Clorox
production facility to convert.
Clorox's statement today includes the many benefits of converting that
Knauss cited such as: "minimizing business disruption, strengthening
operations, reducing potential supply chain constraints, complexity and
risks, increasing security, the company's costs, including volatility
and increases in raw materials...risks relating to the handling and/or
transportation of hazardous substances including but not limited to
Because Clorox is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers
(NAM) which is lobbying against the House chemical security
legislation, Greenpeace also asked Clorox to support the pending
legislation. Clorox has not taken a position on the pending legislation.
However, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), some of whose
member companies are also NAM members, issued a strong statement on
this legislation in 2008 saying, "It's time for the big chemical
companies to do their part to help protect America. They should stop
manufacturing dangerous chemicals when safer substitutes are
available. And if they won't do it, Congress should do it for them."
The current law actually bars the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
from requiring the use of safer chemicals or processes. The current law
also exempts all (2,600) water treatment facilities, some of which use
large quantities of chlorine gas. "Just as we require airplanes to be
safer, clearly the chemical security law must be strengthened to ensure
the use of safer chemicals wherever alternatives are possible," said
On October 1st, in testimony before Congress, the Obama
administration's DHS and Environmental Protection Agency officially
called for permanent legislation that requires the highest risk
chemical plants in all sectors to use safer more secure chemical
processes wherever possible. In 2006, when Senators Obama and Biden
championed nearly identical legislation that was opposed by the
chemical industry, Obama said, "We cannot allow chemical industry
lobbyists to dictate the terms of this debate. We cannot allow our
security to be hijacked by corporate interests."
The cost of converting a plant is insignificant compared to its
liability in the event of a terrorist attack or accident. According to
the New York City Comptroller, the economic impacts of the 9/11 attacks
were $94.8 billion. Safer chemical processes also ensure a more
reliable supply chain and fewer regulatory obligations. More than 87
percent of converted facilities surveyed reported conversion costs of
$1 million or less and one third expect to save money. The Center for
American Progress produced a report listing 284 examples of facilities
that have converted since 1999 at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/04/b681085_ct2556757.html/chem_survey.pdf
Other companies have also recognized the potential profitability of
safer chemical processes. For example, K2Pure Solutions plans to build
safer bleach making facilities in California, New Jersey and Illinois.
For more information, see: www.K2Pure.com
Since the 9/11 attacks, chemical plants have been identified as one of
the most vulnerable sectors of U.S. infrastructure to terrorism. Over
100 million Americans are at risk from just 300 of the 6,300 chemical
facilities identified as "high risk" by DHS. The potential casualties
could range from 100,000 (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory) to 2.4
million (U.S. Army Surgeon General).
Non-disclosure agreement: Prior to the May meeting at Clorox
headquarters, Greenpeace agreed to defer disclosure of any of Clorox's
conversion plans until they were finalized and made public.
Disclaimer: Greenpeace does not endorse any company or products.
Greenpeace comments on Clorox's conversion are specific to the
elimination of catastrophic risks to communities surrounding its plants
and do not address any other Clorox practices or products.
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