Committing to a $160 million investment, Olin Corporation’s Chlor Alkali plant in Charleston is going mercury-free and the conversion will be completed by 2012.
It is a welcome direction, especially to those who have petitioned the company to make this decision in the best interests of our Cleveland and Bradley County — and surrounding — environment. Most assuredly, what is good for that which surrounds us is equally good for our residents.
This is a sound course by Olin, one whose positive impact will be felt in the short term, and most importantly in the long-term picture for our community and its steadily growing population.
Certainly, it is not a decision Olin executives have made overnight. It is a commitment based on a balance of many factors — environmental responsibility, fiscal workability, community awareness and strategic foresight into the future.
Make no mistake.
This is a major investment by a corporation that faces competitive pressures. For this reason, no decision involving this type of capital outlay is easy.
But it’s the right decision.
Our hometown residents know it.
Environmental groups know it. Olin knows it.
But “knowing it” doesn’t make the decision any easier. It is merely a first step. Recognizing an issue comes first. Fixing it is the most important next step.
Olin is taking that step.
We applaud them for taking it.
Likewise, we credit internal organizations like the Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Development Board for their hand in making this day possible by last week’s vote to authorize $41 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds to Olin.
We also credit environmental groups like Oceana, an advocacy organization that campaigns to protect the world’s oceans and waterways from mercury pollution. The ongoing relationship between Oceana and Olin has been tumultuous at best but in the end cool heads and voices of reason have prevailed.
Most importantly, we credit Olin for coming to this decision and for taking action in such a public way.
Local leaders are equally as thrilled at the company’s decision. All see it as an eco-friendly action and one whose fiscal investment also brings with it benefits to the community and our residents.
One is State Rep. Eric Watson, representing the 22nd Legislative District in which the north Bradley County plant is located. “The fact that Olin is making such a major investment in the Charleston plant tells me they’re committed,” the enthused legislator told us. “Olin has been a great neighbor. They’re one of our largest employers and a vital part of the local economy. And now I think what they’re doing shows they care about the environment and they’re serious about the health and safety of the community.”
Like other area leaders, Watson understands Olin’s value to this region. He was active in securing the $41 million recovery grant to support the complex conversion.
Others are equally proud of the Olin commitment — Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis, Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Farlow, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, State Rep. Kevin Brooks of the 24th Legislative District, IDB chairman Ross Tarver and certainly Suzanne Wisdom, Oceana field representative, among others.
It is a victory for the environment.
It is an investment in our future.
It is a good-faith action for all.
Most critically, it is a sound decision by Olin Corporation and its leadership.
It is the right thing to do.
It is the only thing to do.
We applaud Olin for doing it.