Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

28.1.05

Shell Boss Warns Of Global Warming 'Disaster'

Shell Boss Warns Of Global Warming 'Disaster'
The Independent, 26 January 2005 - Governments, not oil companies, must
act now on global warming or there will be a "disaster", the chairman of
Shell's UK arm warned last night.
Delivering the annual business lecture hosted by the environmental group
Greenpeace, Lord Oxburgh laid responsibility for tackling greenhouse gas
emissions squarely at the feet of government.
Lord Oxburgh, a former chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of
Defence, is one of the two chairmen at Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant.
He heads the UK half of the business. He insisted last night that it was
not up to the likes of Shell to reform their behaviour and reduce their
supply of fossil fuels.
"Whether you like it or not, we live in a capitalist society. If we at
Shell ceased to find and extract and market fossil fuel products while
there was demand for them, we would fail as a company. Shell would
disappear as any kind of economic force," Lord Oxburgh maintained.
He said it was up to government to provide a new regulatory framework that
would reduce the incentive to consume fossil fuels, the burning of which
produces carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming.
If government failed to do this, there "will be a disaster" he said,
pointing to the environmental consequences of a rise in the earth's
temperature. Lord Oxburgh said that Shell would be prepared to accept this
kind of regulatory change, "provided that our competitors operate under
similar constraints".
He said: "Our job is to respond in a positive way to a regulatory
environment that has to be determined by government ... given the urgency,
we have to start now."
Unusually for an oil company the chairman of Shell is an eminent scientist
and an expert on climate change.
Copyright 2005 Newspaper Publishing PLC
The Independent (London)


26.1.05

Chemical wasteland turned wetland: DuPont Victoria

Chemical wasteland turned wetland: DuPont Victoria
Do you know that wetlands can dramatically improve environmental
performance and ensure long-term viability for manufacturing facilities?
The wetlands around DuPont?s Victoria Plant in the Guadalupe River valley
in Texas, USA, do just that.
Increasing public concerns about deep well injection, a method involving
the piping of liquid waste or sewage into a chamber surrounded by
non-porous rock at a level well below the aquifer, led to DuPont?s
initiation of a voluntary program to eliminate reliance on this method.
At the Victoria Plant in Texas, the company worked in close cooperation
with local groups, including the Sierra Club, leading experts and
consultants, researching and developing a design for the Wetland that
would dramatically improve environmental performance and ensure long-term
viability for the manufacturing facilities.
Wetlands are where the water meets the land. The shores connected to
oceans, rivers, or lakes are areas where you will find wetlands. Wetlands
come in many shapes, sizes, and varieties and can be freshwater or
saltwater. A wetland requires three things:
It must be covered with water part of the time to a depth of no more than
6.6 feet (about 2 meters). The soil must be saturated to the surface at
some time during the growing season of the prevalent vegetation
It must support and have water dwelling or hydrophilic plants that are
adapted to grow, effectively compete, reproduce, and/or persist in
anaerobic soil conditions
It must have hydric soil
Wetland habitats are home to 43% of US federally listed endangered and
threatened species. Coastal wetlands help protect the land from storm
surges. Wetlands are able to clean and purify the water by removing
sediments, toxins, heavy metals, microorganisms, nutrients and waste
material. Replacing them with manmade water treatment plants would cost
billions of dollars yearly. Wetlands are nurseries for 75-90% of the fish
and shellfish harvested in America. This natural resource accounts for US$
111 billion dollars in sales and provides one and a half million jobs.
The Guadalupe River valley is home to many different species of wildlife,
some rare. Its parks and reservoirs are popular recreation areas, and
Guadalupe State Park and Honey Creek State Natural Area combined protect
4,200 acres (1,700 hectares) of the river basin.
The DuPont plant in Victoria, Texas, produces nylon intermediates, used in
fabrics, and ethylene based polymers, a type of plastic, from
hydrocarbon-based resources. The manufacturing process requires use of
freshwater from the Guadalupe River and produces liquid waste streams.
Historically, these wastewater streams were disposed of using deep-well
injection systems.
However, increasing public concerns led to the initiation of a voluntary
program to eliminate reliance on deep-well injection that would also
dramatically improve environmental performance and ensure long-term
viability for the manufacturing facilities. Among the concerns voiced was
the fear that waste injected into deep wells would contaminate the
groundwater by leaching through to abandoned oil or water wells.
Additionally, DuPont had voiced its intention to discharge 12 million
gallons a day of treated wastewater containing some salts into the
Guadalupe River. The company was confident that environmental impact would
be minimal, but some thought otherwise.
DuPont began research on its environmental improvement program in 1980 to
reduce waste and eliminate deep-well disposal at the site. The company
gathered a panel of stakeholders, experts and company engineers to
determine the best way to structure the wetland area.
The group included representatives of several sectors of the community,
including the Victoria Independent School District and Victoria College,
the Sierra Club, the Victoria Birding Club and government representatives.
Community input was a key factor in the inclusion of a treatment wetland
to visually demonstrate water quality prior to its return to the Guadalupe
River.
This group, called the Wetland Advisory Team, suggested such enhancements
as:
Incorporation of wildlife habitat enhancements such as selection of plants
to provide forage and habitat, addition of deep open water zones for
waterfowl and inclusion of protected islands, in total adding 75 acres to
the habitat
Inclusion of an outdoor education center suitable for classroom groups and
development of an educational program that includes a full-time educator
Addition of public access features including an observation platform,
information kiosk, bird watching blind, walking trails, boardwalk across
wetland and a water sampling pier
Cost-effective treatment capacity that is designed to polish effluent
water and provide buffering in the event of a biotreatment unit upset
In addition, the group produced a set of selection criteria for the plants
to be included in the wetland. They had to have:
Documented performance of use in water quality enhancement
A physical growth pattern conducive to providing water flow distribution
and erosion control
The ability to provide rapid growth and colonization of open areas but
still integrate well into a diverse vegetative community.
The plants also had to be native to the Victoria area and provide some
habitat for waterfowl or wildlife.
Creating this wetland as a buffer between the plant and the river itself
meant that water could be released, after treatment, into a relatively
isolated area containing natural methods of purifying the water. Thus, any
remaining impurities could be monitored and removed before the final
?product? flowed into the Guadalupe River system.
The other type of waste resulting from manufacturing, non-liquid effluent
composed of assorted biosolids, is sent either to a landfill or applied to
a 200-acre land application pilot area. This land is currently producing a
hay crop. In addition, consultants prepare an annual report evaluating the
land application system. This annual report includes biosolids data, soils
and groundwater analyses, application rates and hay quality data. The hay
is being fed to horse and zoo/wildlife center animals in the area. The
local birding club is active in counting and recording birds sighted.
The wastewater treatment facility includes several technical innovations
developed during semi-works and engineering studies that improved process
performance while lowering investment from US$ 100 million in 1991 to US$
45 million in 1998. The buffering capacity of the 53-acre treatment
wetland allowed DuPont to reduce the size and amount of equipment that
typically would be necessary to handle process upsets and avoids permit
incursions. Conventional equipment cost estimates a savings of US$ 10-12
million due to the wetland?s buffering capacity. Providing equivalent
buffering capacity via conventional processing equipment would have cost
3-4 times the wetland?s investment cost of US$ 3 million.
DuPont sold its Victoria Plant as part of the sale of Invista in April
2004.
Further information
Download the complete case study ( 220 kb/ 594 kb)
DuPont Wetlands
DuPont
Wetlands in Texas
Guadalupe River
Sierra Club