May 1 1990

Polluters’ PBS Penance

Has your firm lost its corporate luster due to a few evacuated neighborhoods, the odd near-meltdown, or a few hundred deaths? Is some environmentalist giving you a bad name because of one or two little setbacks?

Some of America’s most enterprising businesses have found a solution: Sponsor a show on public television, particularly one with a green theme. The following are a few of the companies who have used the PBS penance to say “I’m sorry” to those who are touchy about the environment.

This table lists the company, the crime, and the penance:

BASF—One of Western Europe’s most energetic toxic dumpers: Adventure

Chevron—California’s largest petrochemical polluter: National Geographic Special

Du Pont—Major chemical polluter; largest producer of ozone-eating CFCs: Discoveries Underwater

Georgia-Pacific—Clear-cut timberer and paper mill polluter: Forever Wild

Goodyear—Petrochemical polluter; operates problem-plagued uranium enrichment plants: Audubon Society’s “California Condor”

W.R. Grace—Operates a landfill linked to high cancer and leukemia rates in Woburn, Massachusetts: Victory Garden

Hoffman-LaRoche—Showered Seveso, Italy with dioxin-tainted chemicals in 1976: The Health Century

IBM—Major user of CFCs; responsible for ground-water contamination of Silicon Valley and elsewhere: Planet Earth

Mobil—Major petrochemical polluter; industry leader in making phony “degradable” claims for garbage bags: The Living Planet

Siemens—Major German-based polluter: Nature

Waste Management, Inc.—Most frequently fined company in EPA history: Conserving America; Only One Earth