|UNION CARBIDE CORP /NEW/ filed this Form 10-K on 02/15/2018|
NOTE 14 - COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENT LIABILITIES
Accruals for environmental matters are recorded when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the liability can be reasonably estimated, based on current law and existing technologies.
At December 31, 2017, the Corporation had accrued obligations of $114 million for probable environmental remediation and restoration costs, including $19 million for the remediation of Superfund sites. These obligations were included in "Accrued and other current liabilities" and "Other noncurrent obligations" in the consolidated balance sheets. This is management's best estimate of the costs for remediation and restoration with respect to environmental matters for which the Corporation has accrued liabilities, although it is reasonably possible that the ultimate cost with respect to these particular matters could range up to approximately three times that amount. Consequently, it is reasonably possible that environmental remediation and restoration costs in excess of amounts accrued could have a material impact on the Corporation's results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. It is the opinion of the Corporation's management that the possibility is remote that costs in excess of the range disclosed will have a material impact on the Corporation's results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. Inherent uncertainties exist in these estimates primarily due to unknown environmental conditions, changing governmental regulations and legal standards regarding liability, and emerging remediation technologies for handling site remediation and restoration. At December 31, 2016, the Corporation had accrued obligations of $145 million for probable environmental remediation and restoration costs, including $20 million for the remediation of Superfund sites. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Corporation recorded an adjustment to the environmental accrual, primarily resulting from the culmination of negotiations with regulators and/or final stages of certain remediation projects. These charges were included in "Cost of sales" in the consolidated statements of income and were included in the total obligation of $145 million.
The following table summarizes the activity in the Corporation's accrued obligations for environmental matters for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016:
The amounts charged to income on a pretax basis related to environmental remediation totaled $36 million in 2017, $122 million in 2016 and $58 million in 2015. Capital expenditures for environmental protection were $9 million in 2017, $10 million in 2016 and $14 million in 2015.
The Corporation is involved in a number of legal proceedings and claims with both private and governmental parties. These cover a wide range of matters, including, but not limited to: product liability; trade regulation; governmental regulatory proceedings; health, safety and environmental matters; employment; patents; contracts; taxes; and commercial disputes.
Separately, the Corporation is and has been involved in a large number of asbestos-related suits filed primarily in state courts during the past four decades. These suits principally allege personal injury resulting from exposure to asbestos-containing products and frequently seek both actual and punitive damages. The alleged claims primarily relate to products that UCC sold in the past, alleged exposure to asbestos-containing products located on UCC's premises, and UCC's responsibility for asbestos suits filed against a former UCC subsidiary, Amchem Products, Inc. ("Amchem"). In many cases, plaintiffs are unable to demonstrate that they have suffered any compensable loss as a result of such exposure, or that injuries incurred in fact resulted from exposure to the Corporation's products.
The Corporation expects more asbestos-related suits to be filed against UCC and Amchem in the future, and will aggressively defend or reasonably resolve, as appropriate, both pending and future claims.