Todays news is full of the BP oil spill in the Gulf coast, 50 days after the incident. Obama and the USA are making much of it being Britains problem, though BP is an international company 40% USA owned. And the contractors involved in the drilling were USA companies. The president has described the company as “British Petroleum,” a name it has not used for years.
Nick Clegg suggested that Barack Obama was engaged in a “tit for tat diplomatic spat” by employing anti-British rhetoric over the BP oil disaster. US president declared earlier this week that he was looking for “some ass to kick” following BP’s persistent failure to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.
Contrast this with Bhopal. The world's worst industrial accident in 1984, Forty tonnes of a methyl isocyanate leaked from the pesticide factory killing 3,000 people in the Bhopal slums. There are now up to 25,000 people dead according to campaigners. Over half a million people effected by the disaster.
Some 25 years after the gas leak, 390 tons of toxic chemicals abandoned at the plant continue to leak and pollute the groundwater in the region and affect thousands of Bhopal residents who depend on it.
So after 25 years of trying to get justice there are finally some convictions for the the disaster at the Union Carbide plant. The eight Indian former plant employees are convicted of "death by negligence", they got 2 years and fines of £1,467.
But in the USA, no conviction of the US executives from Union Carbide. No help from the US any legal action against Warren Anderson former chairman of Union Carbide. As the Union Carbide boss, Anderson knew about a 1982 safety audit of the Bhopal plant, which identified 30 major hazards. Rather than fix them in Bhopal, only the company's identical plant in the US was fixed. Neglecting these hazards in Bhopal caused the deadly explosion.
Where is Obamas sense of outrage over this? He is responding to pressure over BP, but does he protest too much? He after all has done little to push for safety over drilling. BP in 2009 attracted the largest safety fine in US history, for failing to clean up its dangerous act. Wasn't this a warning that something was wrong with this corporate giant?
According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, no other oil company inspected by OSHA since June 2007 is even close to BP in the number of citations issued for egregious willful violations (760). Sunoco Inc. was cited for 127 alleged violations, eight of which were willful. ConocoPhillips Co. was cited for 119, four of which were willful, and Citgo Petroleum Corp. for 101, two of which were willful. There are even questions about the safety of the cleanup operations.
What of the future? With peak oil we know that we should be looking for alternatives to oil, oil is so last year. Governments should foce oil companies to massivly invest in renewables.
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