Corporations can be river advocates, too

Published 10:09 pm Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cleaning up: BASF employees Cindy Matthews, Ralph Munsey, Mary Jarrett-Brown, Lori Wilson, Andy Robertshaw, Victor Melton and Julian Bray helped clean up the shoreline on the company’s property as part of its participation in the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance’s Corporate River Savers program.

The Nansemond River Preservation Alliance hopes to make environmental stewards of everyone in Suffolk, and that includes corporations that make their home along the waterway.

Through its Corporate River Savers Program, NRPA invites businesses in Suffolk to take on the responsibility of caring for the river.

Volvo Penta, which has a marina on the Chuckatuck Creek, was the first corporation to join the program, and recently, the BASF Corporation decided to take part.


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Elizabeth Taraski, executive director of the Preservation Alliance, said the group aims to get as many companies involved in the program as possible.

“We’d love to have all the corporations that have run-off or are located on the rivers participate,” she said. “That’s how you get the entire community involved.”

Taraski said when corporations take part in the River Savers program, they meet with her to decide what they can do to help the river.

“There’s a menu of options for corporations to be good environmental stewards and to encourage their employees to be environmental stewards,” she said. “They pick and choose which activity or program makes sense for their location and resources.”

For example, Volvo Penta helps NRPA with its water quality monitoring and oyster restoration projects.

For its project, BASF has decided to host Clean the Shoreline Days twice a year, during which employees will go out during the workday to pick up litter by the water.

The first cleanup took place in late November, Taraski said.

Led by Mary Jarrett-Brown, the environmental specialist at BASF, 14 employees spent four hours cleaning debris and trash accumulated on the water’s edge.

Taraski said it is great to have BASF on board for the project because it has such a widespread presence, with 222 acres of property on Wilroy Road.

“They have a significant number of acres on the Nansemond River shoreline,” she said.

Jarrett-Brown said in a press release that protecting the environment is a high priority for BASF.

“We have strong internal environmental operational standards, and it makes sense to expand our corporate social responsibility role to cleaning the shoreline,” she said.

BASF’s next cleanup will take place in March.

For more information on the River Savers program, visit