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"We believe it's always been safe, let's just make that clear," Donald Netko says. "But because of our toxic reduction program, we emit less and we emit safer things. It's going to be even safer."
Netko, the company's director of Environmental, Safety and Industrial Hygiene and Chemical Control, is proud of a small card that he keeps tucked in his wallet. The card, issued to all Motorola employees, lists the company's goals. Like product superiority and customer satisfaction. Environmental safety is also a key objective printed on Donald Netko's card.
Motorola's environmental focus has not escaped the notice of the EPA, says Netko. The federal agency views his employer as a "paragon of virtue" for its elimination of ozone-depleting chemicals, he says. In 1992 the EPA awarded Motorola its Stratospheric Ozone Protection medal, he says, because of the corporation's worldwide efforts to eliminate ozone-depleting chemicals from its high-tech plants.
Netko says Motorola will completely phase out ozone killers by the end of 1992.
"By the end of the year, our emissions will be zero. Our usage of the chemical will be zero. We have as aggressive if not the most aggressive plan to do this," says Netko.
Ironically, freon and TCA, the ozone depleters Motorola is now phasing out, had been used as a replacement for TCE. These days, terpenes, a natural solvent made out of citrus peels, is replacing TCA and freon, says Netko.
The company is also experimenting with new manufacturing techniques that require no toxic chemicals, says Netko.
In addition, Motorola has volunteered to reduce by 50 percent its use of solvents and other health-threatening substances, such as the carcinogen benzene, by the end of 1995.
"As people become aware," he says, "industry reacts, the chemical companies react, and a lot of money is spent coming up with new products."
But despite its vigorous efforts at "toxics reduction," Motorola does not acknowledge that the chemicals it used in the past may have caused health problems among workers and neighbors.
Nor will Motorola discuss the need for thorough public health studies of those who may have been exposed to such chemicals.
"The need for health studies really isn't an appropriate area for Motorola to be addressing," says spokesperson Moore. "What there is a constant need for us to do is monitor our processes.
"We want to ensure the safety of people who are potentially impacted by what we do.