Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 15 (logo)

The Group pursues two courses of action: preventing accidental spills and remediating contaminated subsoils.

Preventing spills

The first course of action relies on two voluntary approaches that, when combined, are good practices in our industry:

  1. Identifying and remediating the highest risk situations, relying on a voluntary environmental risk assessment program. This program is monitored at the Group level via the number of identified and resolved "Risk Sheet 1 situations" ("leading indicator"). The Group policy requires such situations to be resolved within one year.
  2. Managing risks using records and lessons learned from previous accidents. Accidents and incidents are monitored using a standardized classification ("lagging indicator"). As corrective actions, every exceedance of a permit limit is specifically examined at the GBU level and by the zone HSE management team to ensure adequate actions are taken to avoid recurrence. Such events are part of the dashboard regularly transmitted to the Executive Committee.
  • Risk assessment indicator (leading indicator): this indicator monitors the environmental risk assessments that started in 2015, using new Group criteria to determine unacceptable risks and a comprehensive method to complete risk assessments at all sites, taking account of substances and specific parameters. Only one new Level 1 environmental risk sheet situation was identified in 2016. The mitigation measures will be defined and implemented within one year. Solvay will ensure that the effectiveness of the implemented corrective measures is maintained over time. There is a new process for identifying Risk Level 1 for the environment, and the assessment is currently being completed for the sites for which a compliance audit has been performed (75% of the industrial sites - see Note 13). A very limited number of Risk Level 1 incidents are expected.
  • Following up incidents with environmental consequences (lagging indicator): since 2014, process incidents with environmental consequences have been monitored and classified according to a scale based on various criteria, such as quantity of material spilled, consequences on site or off site, damage to the immediate vicinity, and dead fish. Incidents are classified by severity (from M - medium severity to C - highest severity). Within the medium severity classification, a specific criterion is used to reflect events that will lead to the exceedance of permit limits.
Number of incidents with environmental consequences








Scope: Solvay Group Manufacturing and Research and Innovation sites under operational control. The consolidated data for process safety incidents covers 132 sites out of a total of 143 operational sites.

Number of medium severity incident with environmental consequences







of which with operating permit exceedance






No data

In mid-2014, Solvay set up a new reporting system for process safety incidents, with specific criteria for incidents with environmental consequences. No H or C severity incidents have been reported, meaning there has been no long term damage off site for the environment. We succeeded in reducing M incidents and incidents incurring releases above permit limit.

Protecting and remediating the subsoil

Soil contamination "legacies" is very carefully managed, with a long-term vision, to protect health and the environment. Solvay's management aims to

  1. prevent any new soil contamination
  2. precisely characterize soil conditions whenever needed at both active and closed sites, and
  3. manage soil and/or groundwater contamination so as to prevent any further dispersion in surrounding areas.

Solvay always carries out detailed risk assessments as a key step towards selecting the most appropriate management measures.

Finding innovative remediation approaches is a permanent goal, for example via the EU research project Nanorem, which is now coming to an end. This research project is giving us more insight into the application limits of a remediation technology for treating contamination by chlorinated compounds, based on injecting nanoparticles of iron into the soil subsurface.

Environmental financial provisions

Solvay manages soil contamination, and environmental financial provisions (mainly dedicated to the management of soil contamination), with a long-term vision. Provisions remained stable between 2015 and 2016, with slight changes mainly due to financial factors (exchange rate movements). Increases between 2014 and 2015 were also due to financial factors (discount and exchange rates), and to scope changes.

Environmental provisions

In € million







Legend: Provisions are reviewed on a quarterly basis in accordance with the IFRS norms.The provisions for recently acquired Cytec are included in the 2016 figures.

Environmental provisions