AHC Group

Remediation: A business perspective

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Courtesy of AHC Group

The key to managing corporate environmental liabilities is to operate the remediation function as a business, recognizing that, like any business, it has a market, customers, and stakeholders. This article explains DuPont's business strategy for managing these liabilities.


Operating like a business is more about being financially disciplined than pursuing the commercial market. While stakeholders expect you to manage corporate environmental liabilities in a manner that is protective of human health and the environment, stockholders have their own expectations, namely a high return on their investment. They demand that you manage your limited resources in the most cost effective manner possible.

Managing a corporation's environmental liabilities is no less challenging than managing any other complex business. The key is recognizing that it is a business — a business with a market, customers, stakeholders, competition and limited resources. Like any well-managed business, it needs a vision, business plan, cost management, metrics and strategic planning. The Dupont Corporate Remediation Group may not have an After-Tax Operating Income (ATOI) or selling price, but we do have a passion for being cost-effective and increasing shareholder return.


For the remediation business, the marketplace is that maze of federal/state laws, rules, regulations, guidance documents and policies — some written, many not. All are strongly influenced by public opinion, special interest groups and continuously changing regulatory and political environments. In this market, media attention can negatively impact corporate reputation and your issues are always assumed to be an environmental plank in the next election.

Our customers are the regulatory agencies and the public. They either accept or reject the products of our efforts. Our customers require assurances that we fully understand the nature and extent of contamination, the risks posed by that contamination and that the proposed remedial actions are protective of human health and the environment. As with all customers, building and maintaining trust and credibility is a must.

Business units in the corporation are our stakeholders, not our customers; they provide necessary resources and have expectations that those resources will be used in the most cost-effective manner to reduce liability and increase asset productivity.


Our remediation group business objective at Dupont is to reduce environmental liability by more than a dollar for every dollar we spend and to leverage our remediation know-how to help grow the top line. While discounted cash flows, IRR (Internal Rate of Return) hurdles and probability analysis help assure cost-effective decisions, a robust process to authorize and document cost avoidances and cost reductions helps the organization to directly measure their value add and performance opposite business objective.

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