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U.S. SUGAR CORPORATION ANNOUNCES ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRUCTURING

 U.S. SUGAR CORPORATION ANNOUNCES ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRUCTURING
 CLEWISTON, Fla., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Sugar Corporation announced today it has begun an environmental restructuring of the corporation.
 "When we found that we had violated a Federal environmental law," said Nelson Fairbanks, president of U.S. Sugar, "we resolved that nothing like that would ever happen again. Our policy was and is complete compliance with the law. Failure to comply meant we had problems in our organization. Now we are fixing those problems."
 The changes at U.S. Sugar include establishing an environmental department to guide and direct environmental policy and to police any deviations from that policy; a hot line which employees are encouraged to use in reporting violations and a series of checks and balances to ensure that environmental laws and regulations are followed to the letter.
 The actions taken by Fairbanks are in response to a plea agreement announced in December between U.S. Sugar and the Miami U.S. Attorney's office under which, after a two-year investigation, the company pleaded guilty to eight counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and agreed to pay a $3.75 million fine. The charges involved mishandling hazardous wastes. Sentencing of the company will take place on Monday, Feb. 3, in the U.S. Federal District Court in West Palm Beach.
 At the time of the plea agreement Fairbanks acknowledged the company had failed over a three-year period from 1986-89 to properly dispose of a chemical used in testing sugar content in the laboratories and of solvents used to clean machinery and equipment.
 "We did not knowingly allow this to happen," said Fairbanks, but we are responsible, nevertheless. Thank God, no harm was caused to the environment."
 Fairbanks promised he would institute reforms in the company to ensure this would never happen again.
 The actions announced today are:
 1 -- Establishment of an environmental hot line. All employees have been given the number and told they can report environmental violations to senior management anonymously by calling. Reports will be investigated fully. If problems are found, they will be fixed.
 2 -- Hiring an Environmental Vice President. Fairbanks said, "The Environmental Vice President will be our chief of environmental police. We are confident we will hire one of the best qualified people in the country." The company has a short list of candidates which have been interviewed and an offer is imminent.
 3 -- Hiring an Environmental Audit Manager. This person will be independent of the Environmental Vice President and central to a "failsafe" system of internal oversight. If the Environmental Vice President fails to catch a problem, the Environmental Audit Manager's job will be to find it and insure environmental safety. An executive recruitment firm has been engaged and a nationwide search is under way.
 4 -- Establish a Rapid Response Team. This team is in place and has responsibility to investigate hot-line reports. There are also Emergency Response Teams to respond to environmental crises that arise.
 5 -- Establish comprehensive employee environmental training programs. The company has hired Environmental Resources Management, Inc., a national consulting firm to develop this program. Training sessions have already been held in the company and are continuing. "We want our employees to know an environmental violation when they see one," said Fairbanks, "and to know what to do about it.
 "Furthermore," Fairbanks added, "all executives and first and second tier operations managers will receive ongoing training on environmental compliance issues."
 6 -- Establish departmental Environmental Compliance Officers. The Environmental Compliance Officers have been designated in each department of the company. They have primary front-line responsibility for environmental compliance and will report to their department heads and be instructed by both the Environmental Vice President and the Environmental Audit Manager.
 "These six actions go far towards keeping a promise that I am determined will be fully kept," Fairbanks said.
 "I have pledged that we will become a standard of environmental responsibility. We are well on our way. I hope that the public will look back and say of U.S. Sugar that they made mistakes, but they fixed those mistakes and acted in a responsible manner," Fairbanks said.
 -0- 1/29/92
 /CONTACT: Sylvia Walters of the United States Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121, ext. 2116 or 800-992-6314; or Otis Wragg or Ray Casas of Wragg & Casas Public Relations, 305-372-1234, for the U.S. Sugar Corporation/ CO: United States Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: SU:


SS-AW -- FL005 -- 4892 01/29/92 16:14 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 29, 1992
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