CHLORINE AND GREENPEACE
God created 91 chemical elements, man more than a thousand and the devil
created one: chlorine.
Greenpeace magazine (Belgium),
FACTS AND FIGURES
The Holy Bible
Apart from the scientific value of the above declaration, Greenpeace didn't
read The Holy Bible carefully. The Bible clearly links the devil to fire
and sulphur! On the other hand, the New Testimony states that Christians
are the salt of the earth and - maybe you know - salt is composed for 60%
Parts of this page
The target and the means
One of the main targets of Greenpeace is that all industrial chlorine activities
should be stopped at the year 2000. To reach that target, all means are
good. Exaggerating non-problems to so called
'ecological disasters' by producing or suggesting figures which are more
than a thenthousandfold higher than the real
measurements, miscalculations, accusing
factories of severe pollution, while the real location of the named
factory is 400 km downstreams of the point of pollution, taking
words and phrases out of their context, omitting essential
phrases of original works in their copies, suggesting that the existence
of by-products of industry - like dioxin - is the same as emitting
them. Projecting the negative properties of a
few chlorinated chemicals on all the more than 10,000 uses of chlorine.
And even worse they forget to mention the enormous
evidence, one can find in scientific literature which proofs the contrary
of what they are telling. For an environmental group, they like to promote
which are 'chlorine-free', even if these are worse for environment and/or
more dangerous for the users. Last but not least, for a self-defined non-violent
organisation, they use a lot of violence, by attacking factories and transports
and blackmailing intermediate users of chlorine
and chlorinated compounds.
Are we against Greenpeace? In fact no. But Greenpeace
should use sound science and real arguments for real problems, not lies
In one of their 'scientific' reports, 'PVC-factories = dioxinfactories',
Greenpeace makes a double fault.
First they 'translated' a laboratory investigation, where 1.5 gram
of a PVC-intermediate was made, to the amount of dioxin which would be
produced by the production of 100.000 tons of PVC. According to
them, more than 400 g of dioxin would be produced for every 100.000 tons
Secondly Greenpeace suggests that all dioxin produced, would be released
in the environment. If this was true, of course that would be an ecological
and health disaster for the neighbours of such factories. But they 'forgot'
that the laboratory had a yield of only 12%, while a well equiped PVC factory
has yields of over 97%. So this was clearly not comparable.
Alarmed by the publication of the above mentioned
laboratory experiment, the EDC-VCM-PVC-factory of Rovin in The Netherlands,
asked the researchers of the University of Amsterdam, where the experiment
was done, to check the amounts of dioxin formed and released at their factory.
This was done and the results were: on a production of about 500,000
tons per year, about 4 g of dioxin were formed. That is already 500 times
lower than what Greenpeace suggests. Of that amount, after cleanup in a
biological wastewatertreatment and the incineration of the sludge of the
watertreatment, the production wastes and the off-gases, only about 40
of dioxines are released to air and about 10 milligram are released
to water per year. That is 10,000 times less than what Greenpeace
suggests and no ecological disaster, not even a problem.
To make a comparation: other research revealed that each motorship
on the North Sea (including these from Greenpeace!) releases 30 to 80 milligram
of dioxin per year, as much (or less) as a factory where hundredthousands
tons of PVC are made! See also Sources of
If one presumes an environmental problem and doesn't know the real amounts,
one can ask for an investigation. In obvious cases one can extrapolate
laboratory experiments to real-life circumstances. But in this case, years
before they released their report, Greenpeace did know the real facts.
So their suggesting story and figures are a clear falsification of the
Not the first time...
It is not the first time that Greenpeace was completely wrong with their
messages. In May 1990, they spread the "fact" that they had found enormous
levels of dioxin outside the pesticide factory of Nufarm in Melbourne,
Australia, "100 million times greater than USA EPA standards". On ground
of this message, the firm was closed for three months, pending the investigation.
The investigation costed the state of Victoria A$ 1.5 million and the
firm A$ 6 million. The results, some traces of dioxins in the parts per
billion ranges, were commented by Prof. Dr. Ian Ray, as independent researcher:
deductions that this was a danger to the health of the people of Melbourne,
I think that was an exaggeration. I think there Greenpeace didn't have
the facts" . In fact they were a factor
up to one million wrong...
Greenpeace, questioned about this matters, which they had called "the
worst environmental disaster of the world, worse than Seveso" replied:
"We didn't describe it as that. We said it may be one of the world's
catastrophes". And they added: "Nothing Greenpeace has ever said has been
proven, as far as I know, to be incorrect".
No further comment...
In another report, 'Zero Dioxin', Greenpeace calculates the 'release' of
dioxin from all American PVC-producers, from the publiced figures of a
The calculations were made on basis of real emissions of dioxin to
air and water and on the base of the amount of dioxin found in internal
streams and the liquid waste of by-products. The former is in fact nonsense:
internal streams do not come in the environment, so that amount of dioxin
doesn't come in the environment. Greenpeace
deliberately confuses between existence and emission of dioxin.
The latter is even more doubtful: Greenpeace calculates the amount
of dioxin on the base that there is as much waste as production! In fact
only 2.5% of waste is formed, so they miscalculated again deliberately
with a factor of 40. But it is even worse, all that waste is incinerated
in well-equipped incinerators, where all these dioxins are destructed with
a 99.9% yield. Greenpeace was again several thousand times wrong with their
Everybody can make mistakes, but when all mistakes are in the same direction,
that is no mistake anymore but deliberate manipulation.
In the report, 'PVC-factories = dioxinfactories', Greenpeace 'proves' that
a PVC-factory was the cause of a pollution with dioxin of the River Rhine
at km 665. Because this was 10 km south of Cologne in Germany and the named
factory was in Rotterdam at km 1015 in The Netherlands, this was impossible.
After some more investigation, the contamination is probably of the past,
from a factory making chlorinated phenols, which has nothing to do with
PVC and which was already closed for more than ten years.
On the other hand, an investigation of the sludge of the river Rhine
revealed that the contamination with dioxin was at its maximum in the seventies.
Nowadays the dioxin-levels are about the same as in 1945, near zero, despite
the fact that chlorine- and PVC-production is now enormously higher than
in that times.
Greenpeace never apologised for the clearly wrong accusation of the
The omitting of relevant information
In Germany, there was an investigation on the behaviour of PVC in waste
deposits. The report gives a lot of possible ways of leaching substances
from rigid and flexible PVC, without any figure, so no one can calculate
the effect of those 'possible' leachouts. Although the scientific relevance
of this investigation is doubtful, the last alinea is interesting: the
author says that in regular deposits there is no harmful effect of the
deposit of PVC to be expected! This alinea is omitted in copies, widespread
According to the Greenpeace leaflet (in Dutch) 'Chlorine is everywhere',
the Parish Convention decided to ban all chlorinated 'stuff'. Greenpeace
omitted three essential conditions of what the Environmental Ministers
of the North Sea countries decided: The Ministers wanted a ban of all persistentand
toxic and bio-accumulating materials, wether they
contain chlorine or not.
Of course, it is quite obvious to reduce the release of this kind of
materials in the environment to near zero or - if possible - zero. The
toxic, persistent, bio-accumulating chlorinated materials however are only
a subset of a few hundred (by)products, compared with the more than 1,500
natural and the more than 10,000 industrial chlorinated materials. See
also Chlorine and bio-accumulation (not
Projecting negative properties of a Few to All
Greenpeace projects the negative properties of a few chlorinated chemicals
like DDT, PCB's and CFK's, which are already banned or being banned for
that reason, on all - more than 10,000 - chlorine uses. This is scientifical
nonsense. For instance, what has PVC to do with DDT, PCB's, CFK's and the
possible consequences like bio-accumulation, toxicity, cancer and ozone
destruction? Nothing, except that it contains chlorine. For Greenpeace
reason enough to launch a worldwide action against PVC. In fact it is as
stupid as asking for the closing of all nylon factories (which contains
nitrogen), because some farmers use too much fertilisers (which also contains
nitrogen), which causes overnutrification, one of the real problems in
surface waters today and well water tomorrow.
The omitting of scientific evidence
Greenpeace accuses the presence of PVC in municipal waste to be the origin
of dioxin when incinerated. The reasoning is simple: PVC delivers half
the chlorine in municipal waste, thus PVC is responsible for half the amount
of dioxin leaving the incinerator. They even give an example of a test
at a municipal waste incinerator in Denmark (with doubtful circumstances),
where they found a relation between the amount of PVC and the amount of
Greenpeace 'forgets' to mention an enormous amount of more than
seventy experiments at municipal incinerators, all over the world,
where it becomes clear that there is no relation between chlorine
(and PVC) input and dioxin output. There were even more experiments which
gave the opposite result: more PVC at the input gives less
dioxin at the output! They also 'forget' to mention experiments at an incinerator
which did give, with the same feed, a difference up to a hundredfold in
dioxin-release, just by changing the circumstances... So the chlorine-
or PVC-content of the 'fuel' is not important, the quality of the incineration
is crucial for dioxin-releases. See also Chlorine
Greenpeace mentions a lot of alternatives for chlorine and chlorine use
in processes or materials, especially for PVC. However they don't give
any prove that these are better for the environment, only that they are
chlorine-free. In fact, some of these alternatives are proven to be more
dangerous for man and/or environment.
For instance for the desinfecting of swimming pools, they prefer the
use of ozone, instead of chlorine. Ozone is in fact 60 times more toxic
than chlorine and is, contrary to chlorine, now recognised as a human carcinogen
by the German 'Deutsche Forschungsgeselschaft', the institute which makes
the rules for toxic and carcinogenic substances at working places in Germany.
The carcinogenic potency is estimated to be about 120 times higher than
for benzene, a known human carcinogen in petrol. See also Chlorine
and toxicity and Chlorine and cancer.
In a 1996 UK brochure , Greenpeace promotes
the use of cast iron and stainless steel pipes instead of PVC pipes. According
to an investigation of gas distribution systems
in The Netherlands, iron pipes are up to 20 times more polluting than PVC
on several environmental items! So for Greenpeace, their anti-PVC fundamentalism
is stronger than what you should expect from an environmental group...
Greenpeace preaches to be non-violent. But what we see are the many cases
of violently attacking chlorine- and PVC-factories and blocking transports
and doing actual damage.
In Belgium and The Netherlands alone they lost next lawsuits:
Not stopping their action at Solvay Antwerp: fine $ 230,000.
For every blocking of the activities of Akzo Nobel Chemicals in Rotterdam:
a fine of $ 30,000 per case and $ 60,000 per day.
The personal conviction of the Greenpeace-campaigner against chlorine
in Belgium for one month prison on probation and a fine of $ 6,000 for
damage at the Tessenderlo Chemicals factory.
The paying of all costs of blocking a chlorine train at Linne-Herten
in The Netherlands.
The last verdict is quit interesting. The judge based his decision
on the fact that Greenpeace had not even tried to use any legal way to
protest or to give their objections, while other environmental groups did,
nor did they have any discussion with the management of the factory, before
they blocked the train...
The worst violence is what they are doing with their attacks against
the product PVC. Without any scientifically justified reason, they use
PVC as a scapegoat for their fundamentalism. Persons are more or less protected
by law against false insinuations and accusations. No law protects a product
against false insinuations and accusations, nor is it possible to let them
pay for the damage they have done in market shares and disemployment. That
is power without responsability.
Greenpeace misuses the position of consumergoods producers and resellers
to blackmail them. With actions against PVC at different resellers, with
the publication of 'black lists' of goods, still packaged in PVC, they
create an atmosphere, which is difficult to withstand. In fact the resellers
want to sell water, margarine, cheese, fish, meat, toys and other consumer
goods, not the packaging. So if there is a possibility to loose some market
share, because of this kind of negative publicity, they will change rapidly
to other packaging materials. The consumer and the environment will pay
If there was a benefit for the environment of a change-over, there
would be some legitimation for this kind of actions. But because a lot
of sound scientific investigations proves the contrary (see Life
Cycle Analyses of PVC and alternatives) this is in fact a form of ecological
fanatism. In fact what is the difference between disemploying people, on
the base of religion, sex or race, or disemploying them, not because the
products they make are good or bad for the environment, but only because
they contain chlorine...
Are we against Greenpeace?
Until a few years ago, we were admirers of Greenpeace, until we discovered
that even if their targets are legitimated, in all cases they use lies,
halftruths and exaggerations to reach their target. And in the case of
chlorine and PVC, even the target is wrong.
By saying that Greenpeace uses lies, we are in good company: Paul Crutzen,
recent Nobel Prize winner for his work on the ozone layer, has cancelled
his membership of Greenpeace:
"They have cheated the case and I am angry about that, because that
will come to our account. They use bad data, as well as for the Brent Spar
as for the French nuclear tests. I am against nuclear tests, but one should
use scientifical sound arguments... ...No, Greenpeace has harmed the environmental
The actions of environmental groups, including Greenpeace, of which
many Chlorophiles are (in the case of Greenpeace: were) members, were necessary
in the past to awake the managements of factories and the government, that
pollution was going too far. But nowadays, most factories are polluting
much less than traffic or agricultural or domestic activities.
Some environmental groups, like Bellona
in the Nordic countries, have done actions at PVC-factories, but they didn't
ask for the closing down, they worked out how to reduce the pollution to
acceptable low amounts. This was followed by investments at the factories
and now PVC is an accepted product for them. This is not the case for Greenpeace,
they are against PVC, only because it contains chlorine, even if they lose
a lot of credibility for themselves and, even worse, for the environmental
ideas in general.
We think that environmental groups are still necessary to be a watchdog
for factories and government to keep them aware of the consequences of
what they are doing. But that must be groups that use sound science and
valuable arguments, not this Greenpeace.
You are at level one of the Chlorophiles pages.
Created: February 23, 1996.
Last update: July 16, 2000..
Home Page of the Chlorophiles
Greenpeace vs Ferdinand Engelbeen
Complaint at the Dutch Advertising Code Council
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