The petrochemical and chemical industries are aware of their responsibility to ensure the safety of local communities around their sites.
Their aim is to openly engage with the site’s neighbors in various forms of neighborhood dialogues. One such dialogue is a Community Advisory Committee (CAP), also known as a Citizens Advisory Council (CAC).
“A CAP is an ongoing, long-term discussion forum for open dialogue,” according to BASF. “It is made up of a group of individuals who live near or around a facility and who represent the fabric of the community. The CAP meets regularly to discuss issues of common interest. It is a place for open and honest dialogue between citizens and site management. “
According to BASF, the purpose of a CAP is to provide the community with the opportunity for direct participation, while enabling the industry to better respond to local expectations.
The TJC Group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is a company that facilitates CAP meetings and helps the industry build knowledge, understanding and trust with local communities. TJC Group Founder and Chairman Tim Johnson hosted his first CAP in October 1990, and TJC Group has worked with and helped some of the largest and most recognized organizations in the world.
“CAP meetings are important to the industry and the community because they enable regular, transparent, open and honest communication between the management of a site – the plant manager and his management team – and the people who live in this community,” Johnson said. “Meetings give plant leaders the opportunity to hear directly from the community, and the most important flow of information that comes out of these meetings is from CAP members to site management.”
TJC Group currently manages 22 individual CAPs representing 65 companies at 87 locations. According to Johnson, each CAP meeting has a different agenda.
“CAP meetings work almost like a discussion group,” Johnson explained. “It’s not the only communication that should take place, but it’s an element of communication that’s critically important. Plant management can hear what’s on the community’s mind, how the community thinks the factory could be a better neighbor, what the factory should be committed to, in terms of community support and so on.
“Separate meetings may be held to discuss environmental performance of the facility, local employment and hiring, economic impact, personnel or process safety, preparation and emergency response or engagement in local schools. During CAP meetings, it is also important that the community understands the quality of – life-enhancing products that these factories produce every day. However, a major community concern that continues to be raised at these meetings is how to get more of the local population to work in the factories.
Johnson pointed out that he has hundreds of success stories where industry and community have worked together following CAP meetings.
“In an area where we had a multi-plant PAC, there was no designated transport lane for the trucks,” he said. “Tankers carrying chemicals were driving through the neighborhoods, and there was a lot of discussion at this CAP meeting about safety, truck routes, etc. CAP was able to convince all the factories to create a single route for trucks, a single transportation artery. This route got trucks out of the community and ensured they stayed on individual highways that were not populated. Positive results like this are happening all the time at CAP meetings.
In Texas, the mission of the Citizen’s Advisory Council to La Porte Industry (LPCAC) is to build a true partnership between the petrochemical industry and the community of La Porte, Morgan’s Point and Shoreacres. The LPCAC, facilitated by Diane B. Sheridan, is made up of 27 citizens, eight community organizations and 43 industrial facilities, which represent a cross section of the communities of La Porte, Morgan’s Point and Shoreacres.
Sheridan has participated in CAP meetings since their inception, facilitating its first meeting in Wichita, Kansas, in 1988. According to Sheridan, CAP meetings were formally formed as a result of the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care program. Today, there are over 300 CAPs across the country.
“The root of making these meetings useful for the community and the industry is that they provide a forum for the constructive dialogue between industry and the community that is needed,” Sheridan said. “There will always be an inherent tension between factories, which make products for the benefit of society, and local impacts if something goes wrong.”
Whether or not CAP meetings are opened depends on the group. Sheridan explained that some are open, some are closed, while others are invite-only.
“We love having visitors come to our meetings,” Sheridan said. “We are seeing a lot of interest in CAP meetings on workforce development as more and more people retire.”
Sheridan noted that suppliers and contractors can also attend LPCAC meetings. Even though the meetings aren’t geared towards business development, it’s a great way for contractors to network, especially with site managers.
Bob Bradshaw, site manager of the INEOS Olefins & Polymers Battleground Manufacturing Complex, has been a member of LPCAC since 2011. What he enjoys most about this organization is having the opportunity to connect with members of the community and to have constructive exchanges. dialogue on issues relevant to residents and community members.
“I also like to learn what other factories are doing and bring their best practices to my site,” he said. “CACs are important because they give factories, especially factory managers, a way to build relationships with opinion leaders in our communities. industry to know what the community expects of us. It’s also a way for factory members to “demystify” what goes on behind fences and gates. I believe the most important part of the CAC is that it encourages the responsibility to be a responsible operator within our community.If there is a problem or incident at one of our facilities, it is added to our agenda for a in-depth discussion.
“As industry leaders, we understand that the community allows us to operate in their city, and we must obtain this license to operate on a daily basis. I encourage community members to become active participants in your local CAC.”