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Negotiating The Right To Know: Rhone Poulenc And Manchester, Texas (A 1)

1785 words - 8 pages

Introduction/ Company Background:
Rhone-Poulenc (rP) is a French chemical company whose plant manufactures and recycles sulfuric acid. The plant also operates as an incinerator that burns liquid waste that contains sulfur. Until 1985, only 3% of its global sales were coming from the United States. From 1985 to 1990 the company’s income doubled from $7.48 billion to $15.48 billion respectively. The reason for this was that during this 5-year period the company implemented an ambitious growth strategy, making eighteen separate purchases of facilities in the U.S. As a result, rP moved up from twelfth to seventh on the list of the world’s largest chemical companies. Among the eighteen separate ...view middle of the document...

She went door-to-door informing other member of the community about the impending public meeting regarding the modification permit that the company desired. The residents were concerned about public safety in the case of an accident. The purpose of the meeting was to explain the proposed permit modification request. Over fifty citizens showed up and dressed down Poulenc. At the informal meeting of November 21, 1991, Diane Olmos stood up and talked about her experienced of how her husband died of cancer because they were living next to a toxic waste disposal company similar to Rhone-Poulenc. Afterwards, Carol Alvarado stood up and asked why the company had not notified more citizens about the meeting. One member of the community couldn’t believe that the company’s solution for toxic leaks was to have the residents close their windows and doors, and to turn off the AC. The community addressed the issue involving the tankers full of sulfuric acid that would pass daily by the elementary school. The smell of sulfuric acid was so bad that the teachers would have to open the windows to air out the school. Finally, members of the community demanded that another well-publicized meeting be held, and Bill Colvin agreed showing an act of cooperation.
Carol Alvarado took on a leadership role in this matter and because of her position as precinct judge, she was able to able to enlist and secure the support of elected government officials at the federal, state and local levels of government. Carol and others encouraged Texan United, an experienced advocacy group with a track record against chemical companies, to get more actively involved with the case. Along the way, Carol discovered that the Texas Water Commission could be forced to require a Class III rather than a Class II permit that would require a formal public hearing prior to granting the permit. Bill Colvin later learned that Carol had gotten the Texas Water Commission to require a formal public hearing on the permit modification. The new public hearing was set for June 30, 1992 which would include an official hearing examiner, careful rules of conduct, transcripts of the meeting, and designation of official parties.
Little did they know that two weeks before the June 30 scheduled public meeting a tragic event would occur. On June 16, 1992, after loading sulfur dioxide, a truck mistakenly pulled away while still being hooked to a feed line. This cause a release of sulfur dioxide into the air causing fumes to spread to the nearby Newport Shipyards. As a result twenty-seven workers were overcome with respiratory problems, nausea and vomiting while seven workers were in critical and serious conditions.
Course Related Materials
Some topics reviewed in class that relate to Rhone-Poulenc’s case include leadership, communication, negotiation and ethics. As a company, Rhone-Poulenc Co. lacks good leadership and fails to get things done. They also have poor communication with the Manchester community....

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