Theo Industry, Chevron Phillips, EPA discussed on All Things Considered

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Program. The industry came up with in 1991 Cos. That joined watch videos and promised to keep pellets from spilling her plants, trucks, ships and rail cars. There's no data required. No numbers, nothing public. The operation Clean sweep is truly making a difference. Together. We can achieve zero pellet flake and proud of us. Theo industry says it's been a success. Pellet containment is incredibly important to our members. Steve Russell was until recently the vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council, which jointly runs the program. Nobody wants plastic in the environment and If it still happens, and if we're gonna assume it's an accidental release, then it will be reported and remediation steps could be taken. Formosa is an operation Clean sweep member. So I asked to former workers and Ronnie Hamrick about it. I have no idea what she even talking about. I've never heard it. There's evidence the industry does, in fact, have a pellet problem. Recent spills on beaches in Louisiana in South Carolina and studies show pellets are contaminating oceans, killing birds and fish and carrying toxins through rivers. There's also evidence the industry has known about this problem all along. In 2005, the industry participated in a study of 10 pellet plants. It found pellets washed away in heavy rain at every single facility. And called Operation Clean Sweep inadequate. But even long before that, there's a memo buried inside thousands of documents left over from old industry lawsuit. It was written in March. 1991, the industry's trade association, warns top executives from Exxon, Chevron, Dow, DuPont and others. But the EPA had recently found pellets to be quote ubiquitous in the environment. Regulation and permits are likely coming, the memo says. Unless they act quickly, it may still be possible to institute voluntary programs to address the pellet issue, it says. Unless this occurs, it is likely EPA will act independently. Then, just four months later, we developed a program that it was called Operation Clean Sweep. Lou Freeman was a vice president at the time for the trade association, then called the Society of the Plastics industry. I don't recall any discussions. But quantitatively measuring the success of the program. It was being measured really about who is participating that what the results were, so it was a voluntary program without any metrics. Yeah, I would like to think that they were also doing it because it was the right thing to do. But I'd also be naive if I didn't think that much of the motivation was was governed by, you know. Keeping the regulators off our back today. The EPA doesn't regulate pallets and in the almost 30 years since, the agency told NPR it has brought just 10 Clean Water Act enforcement cases against facilities accused of spilling pellets. How would anyone really know if pellets were leaking? If you head down to the Gulf of Mexico pellet manufacturers like Chevron Phillips say they're not. I can tell you that. It's not a problem here at Chevron Phillips, we have almost no pallets, leaving our sights. Jim Becker is the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips. He met me in a warehouse after plant officials showed me ponds and drains, they said, catch all of the pellets. You. You've heard a little bit about Operation Clean sweep. We've been practicing that since the company was formed. How do you know that? That you had almost no hell,.

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