Niagara Gazette

January 7, 2013

HIGGS: Olin Corp. and its Citizen Advisory Panel

By Norma Higgs
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — This week we will learn about my involvement in local industry. I have been a member of the Olin Corporation Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) for a few years and was fortunate to be able to attend its annual meeting with other CAP members from Olin facilities across the country. Our group is led by an outside facilitator and attended by the plant manager and several key management employees.

We are advised on safety issues including any employee related accidents and are brought up to date on in-house facility improvements, new construction and environmental issue which relate to incidents both on the premises and in the community. Fortunately during my time with this group, there have not been any in that last category but I have no doubt that we would be brought up to speed with precise and accurate information. We are also given employment statistics and the type of positions that may be open for applications and interviews. More on our local CAP later.

The conference was to cover three presentations: Responsible Care and some new strategies; The Importance of Bleach to Olin and its future and some New Program Ideas for Olin’s CAPs. Our first speaker was Dan Roczniak, senior director for the Responsible Care program with the American Chemistry Council. This council is based in Washington D.C. and he described it as a trade association with the prime mission to provide advocacy to its 150 members involved in some fashion with the chemical industry both nationally and worldwide.

The Responsible Care program originated in Canada in 1985 and began in 1988 in the United States. Joiners must provide “responsible care” during all phases of their process, transport and storage. The Chemistry Council makes sure its members are in compliance with the requirements set forth by means of an outside audit and there is a process for failure to report any adverse conditions determined from this audit. Some of the members are not producers of chemical products but may be transporters (truckers, railroads) and some are storage facilities and suppliers. All have a hand in bringing a safe product to the marketplace.

Beginning in 2013, the program will introduce new codes for product safety and process safety. There will also be an additional focus on waste, reuse and recycling. More information can be found on their website: americanchemistry.com. Olin Corporation is a member of the American Chemistry Council.

Ken Morgan, Olin’s director of bleach, gave the presentation on the importance of bleach to Olin’s future. Municipalities are changing direction in water and wastewater purification and disinfection and Olin’s future plans include this market share. Olin is North America’s leading manufacturer of industrial bleach and is moving toward the use of railroad transport to move its product throughout the nation. Their current fleet of 500 rail cars carries bleach as far as 2,600 miles with no adverse effects of the product. Temperatures inside the rail cars can be controlled to avoid degradation in product strength and quality. Olin has invested $60 million in three manufacturing locations including its Niagara Falls plant.

CAP reports included a presentation by Rodney Fitzgerald who represented a multi-industry CAP in Charleston, Tenn. The CAP includes 35 members who meet six times per year in odd-numbered months. Membership is composed of several educators, emergency management personnel, Olin retirees, Chamber of Commerce representatives and Olin personnel. The meetings feature reports from the plant on safety, environment, process and distribution issues and community involvement. Speakers are invited to present on topics of interest throughout the area and include educators, government officials and elected representatives.

Tim Johnson reported on another multi-company CAP in St. Gabriel, La., which includes the Olin facility. The CAP includes 19 community representative and 11 facilities and holds monthly meetings. Yearend recaps, expansion plans, hiring outlooks safety council presentations and a review of each plant’s toxic inventory release numbers are covered during the year.

Henderson Nevada was represented by Rita Waroway, a retired Olin employee and Peter Faur, who facilitated our conference as well as the HICAP, multi-company CAP in Henderson. This CAP has 27 members including some from each of the four plants in the group, fire and police representatives, retirees, local residents, business owners, a civic organization and the principal of a local elementary school. They meet six times per year covering topics such as local soil and groundwater remediation efforts, tours of the member facilities, state wide economic development projects and local police department reports on some of its programs.

The Niagara Falls Olin CAP was represented by our independent facilitator, John Vincett and me who reported that its members come almost entirely from the local neighborhood. The CAP has been in existence over 20 years and meets quarterly with presentations on site developments, business developments, Responsible Care performance and employment opportunities. Olin management uses the CAP as a sounding board before making decisions that could affect the community and is looking to expand its CAP membership. I offered suggestions to include younger members from the planning and environmental community as well as another neighboring block club.

All in all it was a worthwhile experience as I am always game to learn something new which makes life more interesting. Over the years I have found that we can all learn from each other by sharing ideas and experiences. I came away from the meeting with added respect for Olin and its concern for safety both within the production facility, the surrounding community and bringing the product to market.

Norma Higgs serves with the Niagara Beautification Commission and Niagara Falls Block Club Council.