Posted on September 12, 2023

At the 18th International Asbestos Awareness and Prevention Conference Olin Corporation shared exclusive and insightful updates regarding Olin’s steadfast support for the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act.

CEO Scott Sutton wrote a letter to conference attendees where he stated:

“As the leader in total U.S. and global chlorine production and the largest U.S. and global producer from the asbestos diaphragm process, we are supporting the end of the use of asbestos in our industry.”

Olin, OxyChem, and Westlake Corporations are the only three remaining users of asbestos diaphragms. OxyChem continues to import raw asbestos into the United States and they are the last company to do so. In contrast, Olin and Westlake Corporation are using stockpiled asbestos while they transition their plants to safer non-asbestos options. 

At the conference, Mike Meenan, Olin’s Director of Global Government Affairs, joined an impromptu Q&A session with us to address some frequently asked questions about Olin and the industry’s use of asbestos, which Olin hasn’t imported since 2021. In his remarks, he stated: 

“We were very happy and pleased to support S.1069 (Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2023)…We are transitioning away from this material. The company is moving in that direction as quickly as we can…We need two years to stop installing new asbestos diaphragms, in line with what the EPA has proposed.”

“We’ve (Olin) been very clear that we are the largest asbestos diaphragm user, we have the largest installed base, about one million tons in the world. And we can do this in the timeframe that we’ve outlined in the letter. We think any company, that is saying they can’t or any industry association that is saying that they can’t is not being genuine.”

ADAO has always found Olin to be candid and responsive to my numerous queries, and our conference discussion was no exception. 

Linda: “So how many chlor-alkali companies does the American Chemistry Council represent?”

Mike Meenan: One. There’s one chemical company that ACC represents. It is OXYChem, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. And so any indication that the “industry” supports one thing or the other just isn’t accurate. There really are only three, sorta four, chlorine companies left in the United States. Olin is the largest, OXY is the second largest, Westlake is the third. Formosa makes a reasonable amount. Um, but only OXY is a member of ACC.

Linda: “With the transition to non-asbestos technology, will the water treatment plants have to pay more?”

Mikel: “No.”

Linda: “So, next week we are going to have a coalition letter… Who’s going to be part of ADAO, IAFF, and others?”

Mike: “Olin is going to partner with Linda again. The letter’s going to look very similar to the one in your packet but addressed to members of Congress but basically the same letter. And so, we’re partners.

Linda: Damn straight.

Olin has been very clear since they first reached out to ADAO in March 2023 that this is a problem we can solve. Nearly all stakeholders are united in the effort to end asbestos use in the United States. It is only OxyChem, that continues to twist the facts and avoid taking responsibility for their ongoing importation and use of asbestos. As Olin CEO Scott Sutton previously stated:

“Occidental Petroleum and their puppet proxy, the American Chemistry Council, is deceiving the regulatory agencies, our Congress, and various other parties about the time required to phase out asbestos use and the potential impacts of the end of asbestos use in chlorine production. It is disheartening to see what should be a winning issue to improve the outlook of this country undermined by regulators and political representatives who are being duped by these deceiving parties. This duping is an embarrassment to the chemicals industry that we can fix. This is an absolute winning issue for all bipartisan and non-partisan actors: this is a win for everybody. Come on, let’s do the right thing and end the use of asbestos.”

As we continue to work to move ARBAN through Congress and work with EPA for more comprehensive asbestos regulation we are encouraged that Olin has joined in our fight alongside our longtime allies including the International Association of Fire Fighters, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Public Health Association, Environmental Information Association, and other esteemed organizations.

Arthur L. Frank, MD, Ph.D., a member of ADAO’s Science Committee shared:

“I am deeply encouraged that support and passage of ARBAN is possible this Congress, especially with the support of Olin.”

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Scott Sutton for his visionary leadership, spearheading the transition efforts within the chlor-alkali industry to adopt non-asbestos technology for producing industrial chlorine and caustic soda, and to Michael Meenan for taking the time to participate in our annual conference.

Linda Reinstein