- Two chlorine dioxide chemical leaks from a Koch-owned cellulose facility in Taylor County Florida in May, 2014.
- Subsidiaries of Koch Carbon have accumulated massive piles of petroleum coke in U.S. cities like Detroit and Chicago, where the toxic dust has blown into peoples' homes from a 5-story-tall pile of petcoke. Petcoke is a byproduct of refining tar sands that is usually burned like coal. Petcoke, which is more carbon-intensive than coal, is typically exported and burned in other countries with little to no air or climate regulations. While Detroit's mayor ordered Koch to move its petcoke pile, Chicago regulators and politicians have not acted with the same urgency despite sustained local protests from community members, nurses, and threats of lawsuits from environmental groups. In response, Koch claims it will add protections to its unlined pile, which could take two years.
- Facing "enormous" cleanup costs for soil and groundwater contamination and high crude oil prices, Flint Hills announced in 2014 that it would permanently close its North Pole refinery outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. Koch blames contamination on the refinery's previous owner, Williams Companies.
This is an example of 'hiding' dangerous environmental production in a remote area, primarily Republican, where most Americans have no idea what is happening. Alaska and it's beautiful wilderness is also remote enough to carry out environmental contamination unchecked.
- Ongoing releases of benzene and other chemicals from Koch's oil refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, where refinery communities experience high rates of illnesses.
- Hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemical contamination from Koch-owned Georgia-Pacific facility in Crossett, Arkansas, as reported in 2011.
- In 2009, the US Justice Department and EPA announced in 2009 that Koch Industries' Invista subsidiary would pay a $1.7 million penalty and spend $500 million to fix environmental violations at facilities in seven states, in an agreement with the US EPA and Department of Justice.
- In May 2001, Koch Industries paid $25 million to settle with the US Government over a long-standing suit brought by Bill Koch - one of the brothers bought out in 1983 - for the company's long-standing practice of illegally removing oil from federal and Indian lands.
- In late 2000, the company was charged with covering up the illegal releases of 91 tons of the known carcinogen benzene from its refinery in Corpus Christi. Initially facing a 97-count indictment and potential fines of $350 million, Koch cut a deal with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to drop all major charges in exchange for a guilty plea for falsifying documents, and a $20 million settlement.
- In 2000, the EPA fined Koch Industries $30 million for its role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters.
- In 1999 a Koch subsidiary pleaded guilty to charges that it had negligently allowed aviation fuel to leak into waters near the Mississippi River from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, and that it had illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi.
- Koch's negligence toward environmental safety has led to tragic losses of life. In 1996, a rusty Koch pipeline leaked flammable butane near a Texas residential neighborhood. Warned by the smell of gas, two teenagers drove their truck toward the nearest payphone to call for help, but they never made it. Sparks from their truck ignited the gas cloud and the two burned alive. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that "the probable cause of this accident was the failure of Koch to adequately protect its pipeline from corrosion" and the ineffectiveness of Koch's program to educate local residents about how to respond during a pipeline leak.
- The inability of Koch companies to avoid pollution incidents stands in contrast with Charles Koch's "Guiding Principles" of his trademarked corporate management theory, "Market-Based Management," which states, "Strive for 10,000% compliance with all laws and regulations, which requires 100% of employees fully complying 100% of the time." This also excludes from consideration the ways in which Koch is permitted to legally pollute.
FORMALDEHYDE, CANCER, AND DAVID KOCH
While David Koch, a victim of prostate cancer, has donated millions to cancer research institutions and is a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific is actively working to downplay the dangers of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.
Formaldehyde (click here) is classified as a human carcinogen. Short-term exposure to formaldehyde can be fatal. Long-term exposure to low levels of formaldehyde may cause respiratory difficulty, eczema, and sensitization. The following references aid in recognizing formaldehyde hazards in the workplace.
- Formaldehyde. OSHA Fact Sheet, (2011, April). Provides information on the harmful effects of formaldehyde on workers and how employers can protect them.
- Formaldehyde. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (1994, May). Provides an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) document that includes acute toxicity data for formaldehyde....
A company's union can be tapped regarding work place safety and education of the employees.
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act....