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GE Halves Spills, But Misses Exceedance Goal

GE has failed to reach its goal of a 25 percent reduction in environmental exceedances in 2010, with both air and water exceedances increasing last year, but managed to reduce reportable spills and releases by more than 50 percent, according to its 2010 Citizenship Report.

The company had 29 air exceedances last year, up from three in 2009, a result more in keeping with its norm since 2004 (see chart). GE had 62 wastewater exceedances in 2010, up from 38 in 2009.

However, spills fell to 25 last year, their lowest level in at least seven years, and less than half the 2009 level of 59 spills.

“In 2010, wastewater exceedances increased over 2009 due to exceedances of sanitary wastewater and air emissions,” GE said in the report (pdf), out yesterday. “Industrial wastewater exceedances comprised only half of the total wastewater exceedances recorded.”

GE says it will continue to work towards identifying the root cause of air and water exceedances, and will take “robust corrective actions to prevent recurrence”. The company says it will implement programs focused on reducing sanitary wastewater exceedances.

Many of the citizenship report’s findings appeared in GE’s annual Ecomagination report last month. These include 2010 figures for water use (11.9 billion gallons, down 22 percent from 15.3 billion gallons in 2006), greenhouse gas emissions (5.65 million metric tons, down 24 percent from 7.44 million in 2004) and energy intensity (335.4 MMBtu per $1 million revenue, down 33 percent from 498.7 in 2004).

The company’s 2015 goals include improving energy intensity by 50 percent and cutting GHG emissions by 25 percent, both from a 2004 baseline, and reducing freshwater use by 25 percent from a 2006 baseline.

But while the Ecomagination report provided energy intensity, greenhouse gas emissions and water figures for 2009, the full citizenship report does not provide these figures.

“For GHG and energy-related metrics, each year GE adjusts its 2004 baseline inventory to account for divestments and acquisitions,” yesterday’s report says. “For 2005–2009, GHG and energy-related data were not collected for new acquisitions. As a result, adjusted results for 2005–2009 are not available.

“For water and waste-related metrics, each year GE adjusts its 2006 baseline inventory to account for divestments and acquisitions. For 2007–2009, water and waste-related data were not collected for new acquisitions. As a result, adjusted results for 2007–2009 are not available,” the report added.

Significant acquisitions will continue this year, GE says, with the company adding up to 100 manufacturing and service sites, along with offices, warehouses and other locations.

Yesterday’s report said that the company’s operational GHG intensity has fallen 37 percent since 2004, from 60.06 to 37.62 metric tons per $1 million revenue.

Meanwhile absolute energy use has fallen 18 percent, from 61.7 million to 50.4 million MMBtu.

Hazardous waste generation was up last year at 36,100 metric tons, from 32,751 in 2009, but down from 40,300 metric tons in 2006. Non-hazardous waste was also up on 2009, from 174,776 to 217,000 metric tons, and down from 233,000 metric tons in 2006.

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