The American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care program was started in 1988 to deflect criticism of the industry's environmental and public safety track record.
The voluntary program allows chemical companies to "achieve improvements in environmental, health and safety performance beyond levels required by the U.S. government."
According to ACC, "The program has resulted in significant reductions in releases to air, land and water, major improvements in workplace and community safety, and expanded programs to research and test chemicals for potential health and environmental impacts. Responsible Care continues to strengthen its commitments and enhance the public credibility of the industry."
While Responsible Care may help improve the image of the chemical industry, in reality, ACC member companies are still causing harm to their communities through accidental chemical releases.
In April 2004, U.S. Public Interest Research Group issued a report that documented the failure of ACC's voluntary initiative:
- Since 1990, two years after the implementation of Responsible Care, at least 25,188 accidents have occurred at current ACC member companies' facilities.
- On average, 1,800 accidents occurred at ACC facilities each year, or five chemical accidents a day.
- Since 1990, two years after the Responsible Care program was created, accidents have not declined at ACC member companies' facilities. In fact, the number of accidents increased in 2002, the year the chemical industry claimed to increase security and safety measures in the wake of September 11, 2001.
- BP, Dow, and DuPont had the most accidents at their facilities since 1990. BP had at least 3,565 accidents at its facilities, Dow had 2,562, and DuPont had 2,115. These three companies were responsible for nearly one third (32.7 percent) of all the accidents at ACC member facilities since 1990.
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