UCC Chairman's Letter
We enter 1999 with an ever-increasing dedication and commitment to
Responsible Care because we know we must continue to improve our health, safety and
environmental performance to achieve our strategic goals.
As the chemical industry celebrates the 10th anniversary of Responsible Care, I am very confident about its future and also gratified by what we have accomplished since this performance improvement initiative was launched by the Chemical Manufacturers Association in 1988. Union Carbide's 10-year highlights show that we have made great strides in health, safety and environmental performance. To cite but a few accomplishments: air and water emissions of known or suspect carcinogens dropped by 77 percent, while our chemicals and polymers production increased by 27 percent, and we have had no major process safety incidents in more than seven years.
But as far as we have come, there is still a long road ahead, and we are laying the groundwork for even greater improvements. Union Carbide, like the chemical industry as a whole, realizes that despite our progress we have not been able to substantially raise the bar of public opinion. Although, according to recent surveys, Union Carbide scored much more favorably with residents in our site communities than did the industry in general in other chemical plant communities, we know our ability to operate our facilities and grow competitively depends on how well we address the questions and concerns of our neighbors and other stakeholders.
In this vein, last year Union Carbide began sharing risk management information in our local U.S. communities in anticipation of the June 1999 compliance date for the EPA's new Risk Management Program (RMP) rule. Our major sites are communicating through community-based forums prior to filing their information with the EPA. In fact, our Taft, La., and Texas City, Tex., facilities as part of industry coalitions in those areas have already shared such information with employees and the public. Our latest risk communications activities are a continuation of efforts conducted in the Kanawha Valley, W.Va., and in Seadrift, Tex., in 1994 and 1995, respectively, prior to finalization of the RMP in 1997. Carbide also has set up an internal working group to plan the additional testing warranted under the High Production Volume Chemical Challenge (HPV) announced last year. This industry-wide voluntary initiative is expected to increase the amount of information publicly available on the potential health and environmental effects of certain chemicals meeting the EPA's criteria. For Carbide, the initiative represents a continuation of our efforts over 50-plus years, during which we have been involved in or conducted more than 6,000 toxicological studies on our products
The public also should look forward to hearing more about what chemical companies are doing in terms of what is called "sustainable development"; that is, growth that meets economic, social and environmental needs without compromising the future of any one of them. We realize that the more successfully we integrate the principles of sustainable development into our business operations, the better able we will be to compete into the 21st century. While working on these issues, we will seek to improve our Responsible Care performance, especially in certain key areas, including accidental releases and employee health and safety. We regret having to report that in 1998 we suffered our first domestic fatality, and our second worldwide since 1991, when an employee at our Taft plant died from nitrogen asphyxiation. No loss of life at work is acceptable. We have implemented new corporate-wide practices to prevent a similar tragedy. Additionally, though we equaled our best year ever in the number of accidental releases, the quantity released increased. I am determined to see that we continue to expend every effort to turn these results around in 1999.
Responsible Care Implementation
Although the challenge was formidable, Union Carbide successfully implemented all the management codes of the Responsible Care initiative domestically in 1996 three full years ahead of the target set by the CMA. As Responsible Care begins its second decade, you will be hearing more about enhancements CMA is making in its performance improvement, accountability and public participation initiatives. This is our ninth Responsible Care Progress Report. In addition to reading this corporate overview, we encourage you to review the information on site-specific activities at our U.S. locations and other facilities worldwide by reading the expanded 1998 RC Progress
We are dedicated to taking Responsible Care to greater heights, and comments from you, government representatives and public interest groups will help us map the path to our objectives. Do not hesitate to contact us with your suggestions.
Chairman, President and
Chief Executive Officer