Chemicals arm shows BP Group the way on environment reporting

BP Chemicals' second annual environmental report shows that it is improving its performance on some, but not all, parameters. The quantitative presentations in the report are to be extended to other BP activities next year as a result of feedback from environmental groups and local communities.

In May, BP Chemicals joined a small group of chemical companies - including ICI, Monsanto and Dow Chemical - which have begun publishing regular reports on their environmental performance.

BP Chemicals' report contained baseline data on releases of some 200 chemicals to air, land and water from the company's ten largest sites in 1990. It also contained targets to reduce hydrocarbon emissions to air by 50% and discharges to water by two-thirds by 1997 (ENDS Report 208, pp 3-4 ).

Since May, seven of the ten sites have also issued data on their own releases, implementing the company's new policy of communicating more openly with local communities (ENDS Report 198, pp 21-24).

The three sites which have yet to issue reports are Hythe in the UK, Antwerp in Belgium and Lavera in France. At Antwerp, the obstacle is a Belgian law which could be used to incriminate managers if such data were issued. A spokesman for BP Chemicals said that the site is waiting until it can provide accurate measurements of releases rather than supplying estimates, as other sites have done.

The delay at Hythe was caused by a buy-out of the site by private investors which was only completed in September.

And at Lavera, BP Chemicals intends to issue a report in conjunction with Elf Atochem, which has manufacturing facilities on the same site.

The 1991 corporate report shows that total releases of the 200 or so reported chemicals from BP Chemicals' top ten sites declined by 8% from 171,000 tonnes in 1990 to 158,000 tonnes last year. Almost 70% of the decrease is labelled as a "real reduction", while the remainder was due to better data collection and measurement.

Hydrocarbon emissions to air were cut by 16% to 27,000 tonnes in 1991, putting the company well on track to meet its 1997 target. But emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides combined rose by 8.7% as electricity production at the firm's site at Baglan Bay, south Wales, increased.

BP Chemicals also failed to achieve any significant reduction in CO2 emissions in 1991, but says it still subscribes to a promise by CEFIC, the chemical industry's federation in the EC, to cut CO2 emissions across the industry by 15% by 2000. The commitment is conditional on the proposed EC carbon/ energy tax not going ahead.

No progress is evident in the report towards the 1997 liquid effluent reduction target. However, Environment Manager Mike LaGraff says he is confident of meeting the goal once planned effluent treatment plants are installed.

Off-site disposal of waste was cut by 5.5% in 1991 - an example of market forces working to encourage the company to tackle its own waste, according to Mr LaGraff.

The company intends to provide additional information in next year's report. This will include data on on-site waste reuse and recycling, energy efficiency, breaches of legislation, and environmental expenditures.

BP Chemicals' environmental reports are in a different league from the BP Group's first environmental report. Published last year, this contained almost no systematic quantitative data (ENDS Report 204, pp 17-19 ). However, Mr LaGraff says that both BP Oil and BP Exploration will issue more detailed reports next summer.

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