ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY MATTERS
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2015
|ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY MATTERS|
|ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY MATTERS||
20. ENVIRONMENTAL, HEALTH AND SAFETY MATTERS
EHS CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
We may incur future costs for capital improvements and general compliance under EHS laws, including costs to acquire, maintain and repair pollution control equipment. For the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014 and 2013, our capital expenditures for EHS matters totaled $141 million, $125 million, and $92 million, respectively. Because capital expenditures for these matters are subject to evolving regulatory requirements and depend, in part, on the timing, promulgation and enforcement of specific requirements, our capital expenditures for EHS matters have varied significantly from year to year and we cannot provide assurance that our recent expenditures are indicative of future amounts we may spend related to EHS and other applicable laws.
We have accrued liabilities relating to anticipated environmental cleanup obligations, site reclamation and closure costs and known penalties. Liabilities are recorded when potential liabilities are either known or considered probable and can be reasonably estimated. Our liability estimates are calculated using present value techniques as appropriate and are based upon requirements placed upon us by regulators, available facts, existing technology and past experience. The environmental liabilities do not include amounts recorded as asset retirement obligations. We had accrued $38 million and $60 million for environmental liabilities as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Of these amounts, $6 million and $7 million were classified as accrued liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively, and $32 million and $53 million were classified as other noncurrent liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively. In certain cases, our remediation liabilities may be payable over periods of up to 30 years. We may incur losses for environmental remediation in excess of the amounts accrued; however, we are not able to estimate the amount or range of such potential excess.
Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") and similar state laws, a current or former owner or operator of real property in the U.S. may be liable for remediation costs regardless of whether the release or disposal of hazardous substances was in compliance with law at the time it occurred, and a current owner or operator may be liable regardless of whether it owned or operated the facility at the time of the release. Outside the U.S., analogous contaminated property laws, such as those in effect in France and Australia, can hold past owners and/or operators liable for remediation at former facilities. Currently, there are approximately 10 former facilities or third-party sites in the U.S. for which we have been notified of potential claims against us for cleanup liabilities, including, but not limited to, sites listed under CERCLA. Based on current information and past experiences at other CERCLA sites, we do not expect these third-party claims to have a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA") in the U.S. and similar state laws, we may be required to remediate contamination originating from our properties as a condition to our hazardous waste permit. Some of our manufacturing sites have an extended history of industrial chemical manufacturing and use, including on-site waste disposal. We are aware of soil, groundwater or surface contamination from past operations at some of our sites, and we may find contamination at other sites in the future. For example, our Port Neches, Texas, and Geismar, Louisiana, facilities are the subject of ongoing remediation requirements imposed under RCRA. Similar laws exist in a number of locations in which we currently operate, or previously operated, manufacturing facilities, such as Australia, India, France, Hungary and Italy.
West Footscray Remediation
By letter dated March 7, 2006, our former Base Chemicals and Polymers facility in West Footscray, Australia was issued a cleanup notice by the Environmental Protection Authority Victoria ("EPA Victoria") due to concerns about soil and groundwater contamination emanating from the site. On August 23, 2010, EPA Victoria revoked a second cleanup notice and issued a revised notice that included a requirement for financial assurance for the remediation. As of December 31, 2015, we had an accrued liability of approximately $17 million related to estimated environmental remediation costs at this site. We can provide no assurance that the authority will not seek to institute additional requirements for the site or that additional costs will not be required for the cleanup.
North Maybe Mine Remediation
The North Maybe Canyon Mine site is a CERCLA site and involves a former phosphorous mine near Soda Springs, Idaho, which is believed to have been operated by several companies, including a predecessor company to us. In 2004, the U.S. Forest Service notified us that we are a CERCLA PRP for contamination originating from the site. In February 2010, we and Wells Cargo (another PRP) agreed to conduct a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study of a portion of the site and are currently engaged in that process. At this time, we are unable to reasonably estimate our potential liabilities at this site.
Port Neches Flaring Matter
As part of the EPA's national enforcement initiative on flaring operations and by letter dated October 12, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (the "DOJ") notified us that we were in violation of the CAA based on our response to a 2010 CAA Section 114 Information Request. The EPA has used the enforcement initiative to bring similar actions against refiners and other chemical manufacturers and has sought to collect civil penalties in excess of $100,000. Specifically, the EPA alleged violations at our Port Neches, Texas facility from 2007-2012 for flare operations not consistent with good pollution control practice and not in compliance with certain flare-related regulations. As a result of these findings, the EPA referred this matter to the DOJ. We provided a formal response to the DOJ and the EPA with a supplemental data submission on April 29, 2013. We have been engaged in discussions with the DOJ and the EPA regarding these alleged violations and conducted field trials on an alternate flare monitoring method beginning in September 2014. We are currently unable to determine the likelihood or magnitude of any potential penalty or injunctive relief that may be incurred in resolving this matter.
Disclosures of measures taken for environmental remediation, employees health and safety related matters.
No definition available.