The Inaugural ESG Event Newsletter for November 2022
December 14, 2022
This edition covers a selection of 10 asset-level air and water pollution stories from the last month we found interesting.
This blog is the first in a monthly series of free to subscribe newsletters covering the month’s most significant global ESG events, achievements, announcements, incidents, scandals and controversies powered by Responsible Capital News Screen. News Screen is an innovative, new data product launched by the team at Neural Alpha enabling ESG professionals within asset management, banking and corporates to incorporate news flow into universe construction, monitoring & engagement, due diligence / screening and risk management requirements at scale without compromising on precision and context. News Screen covers not only negative news flow but also positive news flow with reference to major company achievements, discoveries, inventions and other sustainability solutions covered by our models.
Powered by our proprietary Machine Learning models and our ESG Taxonomy the beta release for air & water pollution covers over 700 ESG concepts and is continuously expanding to cover additional ESG themes and topics. In coming months we will extend our models to cover wider biodiversity and nature related themes amongst others. Currently News Screen processes over 250,000 news stories daily covering ESG events and extracting material information such as ESG issues, companies, locations and sentiment of major news events.
Beyond individual company analysis News Screen also enables sophisticated discovery and analysis of the ESG issues and solutions different industries are exposed to. The heat map below visualises the varying strength of links between TRBC industry groups and ESG concepts shaded by sentiment analysis. Just because an issue is material to an industry does not mean it is being actively covered in the news and vice versa.
Our ESG Knowledge Graph, Responsible Capital, links this information to other useful data points such as in the case of this month’s newsletter — geotagged physical asset data. You will see that for each of the 10 stories we have extracted using Natural Language Processing (NLP) a specific location for an event related to physical infrastructure detailing the owners and operators. For physical assets we cover a range of indicators including toxicity, production, capacity, connectedness and nature and biodiversity indicators such as nature intactness metrics like the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) indicator. Feel free to reach out to us if you are interested in any of the underlying indicators that we have available for these physical assets.
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Whilst COP27 played out in Egypt, another story was unfolding in the country. Every day at Egypt’s Ras Shukeir Oil Terminal, 40,000 cubic metres of ‘produced water’, a toxic wastewater generated as a by-product of oil & gas drilling, is flowing into the Red Sea. Leaked documents and satellite imagery show the presence of heavy metals, grease, and oil, far in excess of local water pollution regulations, in the area surrounding the terminal. This area contains a rare form of coral that could potentially fall victim to this water pollution.
Ownership Information The Gulf of Suez Petroleum Company (GUPCO) is a joint venture company between Dragon Oil — which is fully owned by the Government of Dubai — and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation.
Concepts Produced water,chemical leak, waste water, cadmium, toxic pollution, algae blooms, water pollution
H&M is in the spotlight again, this time for allegations relating to water pollution. Four facilities releasing waste water, Sterling Denim and Mascotex near Dhaka; Taqwa Fabrics and Aswad Composite Mills near Sreepur have confirmed links to such pollution, with H&M producing clothes at three of these facilities. Locals claim that contamination from these facilities (and others) has led to the complete biological death of local rivers. H&M has subsequently admitted that it doesn’t fully adhere to sustainability standards and is investigating internally.
Ownership information H&M is owned in majority by the Stefan Persson family. Other large shareholders include the Swedish Government Offices, the Lottie Tham Family, Swedbank, and Nordea.
After an 11 day struggle, Equitrans have finally stymied a natural gas leak at their Pennsylvania facility. The leak led to the release of between 15,800 to 20,300 metric tons of methane. This is the approximate equivalent of 50,000 households worth of CO2e emissions.
Ownership information Equitrans Midstream is a US-based publicly traded company, with Capital Research & Management, BlackRock and Vanguard being some of its largest shareholders.
Bangladesh’s new Rampal Thermal Power Plant in Khuln began operation this November. The plant — a joint venture between two state-owned companies, Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and NTPC Limited — will ramp up capacity over coming years and aims to produce approximately 1/25th of the country’s energy.
Ownership information Rampal Thermal Power Plant is a JV between BPDB and NTPC Limited, which are owned by the Bangladeshi power board and the Indian Government respectively.
The EPA issued a notice of violation to Utica Resource Operating (URO) in 2020 after finding evidence of uncontrolled VOC emissions from oil and wastewater storage vessels during inspections of 11 URO well facilities. This November a settlement was reached for URO to pay a penalty of 1 million USD, as well as a 1.5 million USD package of injunctive relief at 15 well pad facilities, to come into compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Organisation ownership URO is privately owned has no ownership information of note.
In the early morning of November 3rd, a fire broke out at Valero’s Bill Greehey Refineries in Corpus Christi, Texas. Twelve hours later the fire was fully controlled, but not before eclipsing emissions quotas in multiple categories. Local regulators are presently investigating whether or not this incident was avoidable.
Ownership information Valero the operator and owner of this facility has large shareholders which include: BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street Corp, FMR LLC, and Morgan Stanley.
A fire at Symrise Chemical Plant was controlled within 12 hours, but not before it set off a series of explosions. It took more than one million gallons of water to extinguish the blaze and a layer of firefighting foam, some of which contained PFAS, was also used to suppress remaining fumes and hotspots. Whilst authorities note that no further air monitoring is required, it was confirmed that terpenes (a non-toxic irritant for those with breathing conditions) were released as a result of the explosions at Symrise Chemical Plant.
Ownership information Symrise chemical plant is owned by Symrise AG. Large shareholders of Symrise AG include MFS (SUN LIFE), Prudential, Blackrock and Gerberding Verwaltungs GMBH.
A product tanker, M/T Ocean Princess, was found using fuels that exceeded the pollution limits set by the Act to Prevent Pollution. After pleading guilty to intentionally violating US environmental laws designed to protect air quality, Ionian Shipping and Trading — the product tanker’s operating company — has been placed on probation for one year. Lilly shipping, the vessel’s owner, pleaded guilty to a similar offence three years ago alongside Ionian shipping. In addition, Ionian shipping, a Greece-based company, was found to have deliberately used high sulphur fuels exceeding the permitted levels.
Ownership information M/T Ocean Princess, operated by Ionian Shipping and Trading, is owned by Lily Shipping.
Concepts Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, fine, violation
UN special rapporteurs have sent letters to Barrick Gold & Shandong Gold, the co-owners of the facility, expressing concerns about the reports of toxic leaks from the mine. This is the second such incident in the past seven years as the facility was previously fined millions for cyanide and heavy metal leaks into the local water supply. Barrick flatly denies the spillage of any contaminants into the local environment in 2022.
Ownership information The mine is operated by Minera Argentina Gold SRL, of which Barrick Gold & Shandong Gold both have 50% ownership.
This November, Channel Infrastructure pleaded guilty to 14 charges relating to the prohibited use and unauthorised discharge of firefighting foam containing per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The firefighting agents, which contained PFAS (so-called forever chemicals), leaked into the Whangārei Harbour from the Marsden Pt. Oil Refinery which is operated by Channel Infrastructure in New Zealand. The toxic leak occurred last year after the site had been used on seven separate occasions for training purposes.
Ownership information Chanel Infrastructure is a publicly owned company whose largest shareholders include Exxon, BP, JP Morgan Chase & the Government of New Zealand.
Concepts PFAS, hazardous substances
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