What's your pollution score?
You should take the time to learn what EHS information on your company is available on the Internet. This article gives you an idea of what you'll find.
Once you've found and gathered the information, you should inform management and together draft answers to likely questions that may come from the public or other interested parties.
- First, go to the Internet address www.scorecard.org. This site is hosted by the Environmental Defense Fund.
- A box on the homepage says "Find your community" - enter a zip code and hit the "Go" button. In my case, I used zip code 43614.
- "About your community" is the next page that comes up. Most likely the data will be for the county or township that encompasses the zip code you entered. Lucas County, Ohio, was associated with zip code 43614.
- Under the heading "Toxic Chemical Releases from Manufacturing Facilities," link to "Who is Polluting Your Community?"
- The next page that comes up will list, by priority, the largest polluters in the community.
In my example, 20 companies are ranked by the amount of pounds they listed in the 1997 EPA Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports. Chrysler Corporation in Toledo was ranked first with 1,053,711 pounds. Alac in Oregon, Ohio, was ranked 20th with 8,851 pounds.
- Go to the Scorecard "Pollution Locator/Search Engine" page - www.scorecard.org/env-releases.
- There are several ways you can go from here. For example, go to the "Facility Reports" section at the bottom of the page.
- Enter a company name in the blank space and hit the "Go" button.
I was interested in TRI data for Andersons Inc. in Maumee, Ohio (Lucas County). I simply entered "Andersons" for my search. I could have narrowed the search by also entering the state and city, but I wanted to see the results of the broader search for all "Andersons." A number of Andersons appeared for my search. Andersons, Inc., in Maumee, Ohio, did appear, and was listed as having 6,160 pounds of TRI releases.
- Double-click on any company that comes up on the Scorecard site to find its pollution score (not just total pounds of releases). The name will be colored blue and underlined. I chose Chrysler Corporation, ranked as the top polluter in Lucas County.
- An "Environmental Release Report: Chrysler Corp." (Toledo, OH) appeared. Chrysler is initially scored in five categories: 1) total environmental releases; 2) cancer risk score; 3) noncancer risk score; 4) air releases of recognized carcinogens; and, 5) air releases of recognized developmental toxicants.
Scoring is from 0 to 100 percent and "cleanest/best facilities in U.S." to "dirtiest/worst facilities in U.S." Chrysler scores as one of the "dirtiest/worst facilities in U.S." for total environmental releases. Other scores are better.
- Chrysler's scores for specific pollutant categories can be found by linking to "other chemical release and waste management attributes," which is just below the scoring table for the five major pollution categories.
- Once you have made this link you'll find scoring for 17 pollution categories, such as air releases for cardiovascular or blood toxicants and air releases for suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicants.
Chrysler in Toledo scores "dirtiest/worst facilities in U.S." in 13 of these 17 areas. The Chrysler facility in Toledo is scored for the entire U.S., but the Scorecard site also permits scoring within the state or county.
- Pages on Chrysler include links to maps showing the location of the facility in the community, specific chemicals for top cancer risk and top noncancer risk, links to chemical health and safety information, and links to a detailed facility inspection and compliance report and report on pollutant spills. Also listed is specific facility information such as mailing address, public contact (individual's name), phone, and parent company.
One reminder: EHS data on your company is not static. You might want to consider what changes can be made at your company to improve pollution scores and improve your company's image in EHS matters. At the very least, you need to evaluate the data to eliminate surprises and be better prepared to respond to concerns.