Safety First: Clorox to Eliminates Chlorine Risks

Feature story - November 2, 2009
On November 2nd, the Clorox Company announced plans to convert all of its U.S. factories that use chlorine gas to safer chemical processes over the next few years. Greenpeace applauds this move because it will eliminate catastrophic risks to more than 13 million Americans living near their facilities.

The conversion of Clorox facilities will also eliminate all risks posed by the transport of 90-ton rail cars of chlorine gas to their facilities and suppliers.

Will Congress put safety first, too?

In addition to eliminating the catastrophic consequences of terrorist attacks and accidents at their facilities, the Clorox announcement adds dramatic new evidence in favor of the chemical security legislation pending in Congress (H.R. 2868). This legislation would require the highest risk chemical plants to use the safest chemical processes available to them.

For the first time since the September 11th attacks, we have a chance to pass legislation to ensure that the highest risk chemical plants user safer chemical processes. This will not only make them less attractive terrorist targets, it will eliminate the risk of disastrous chemical accidents. As President Obama once said, "these plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country."

Dow and DuPont are lagging behind

By ending the use of chlorine gas, Clorox proves that these risks are completely avoidable. It also shows that conversion is smart business and can enhance long-term job security. Eight years after the September 11th attacks, the Clorox announcement leaves no excuse for other chemical industry giants, including Dow and DuPont, whose plants put millions of Americans at risk.

In February, Greenpeace wrote Clorox CEO, Donald Knauss asking for a meeting to discuss ways to eliminate these risks. Greenpeace sent similar letters to Dow and DuPont. Soon after, Knauss responded and invited Greenpeace to a meeting with him and other executives at their Oakland, California headquarters in May. At the meeting Knauss unveiled their plans and explained the economic, security and safety benefits that executives factored into their decision. Following the meeting, Greenpeace was also given a tour of the Fairfield, California plant, which will be the first Clorox production facility to convert.

View Clorox press release

Other companies have also recognized the potential profitability of safer processes. For example, K2Pure Solutions is building safer bleach-making facilities in California, New Jersey and Illinois. For more information, see:

The cost of saving lives is priceless

The cost of converting a plant is insignificant compared to its outstanding liability. Safer chemical processes also ensure a more reliable supply chain and fewer regulatory obligations. More than 87 percent of converted facilities surveyed reported conversion costs of $1 million or less and one third expect to save money. The Center for American Progress produced a report listing 284 examples of facilities that converted since 1999. View the report

Disclaimer: Greenpeace does not endorse any company or products. Greenpeace comments on Clorox's conversion are specific to the elimination of catastrophic risks to communities surrounding its plants and do not address any other Clorox practices or products.

Take action

Keep the momentum going in the House on chemical security.