Friday, May 14, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

In Bhopal, India in December 1984 a pesticide plant operated by Union Carbide released enough methyl isocyanate (i.e. cyanide) to expose over 500,000 people and kill over 15,000. The ground water in the region is still contaminated. No one has been prosecuted. The investigation found:

--Staffing at the plant had been cut to save money. Workers who complained about codified safety violations were reprimanded, and occasionally fired.
--No plan existed for coping with a disaster of this magnitude.
--Tank alarms that would have alerted personnel to the leak hadn't functioned for at least four years.
--Other backup systems were either not functioning or nonexistent.
--The plant was equipped with a single back-up system, unlike the four-stage system typically found in American plants.
--Tank 610 held 42 tons of MIC, well above the prescribed capacity. (It is believed that 27 tons escaped in the leak.)
--Water sprays designed to dilute escaping gas were poorly installed and proved ineffective.
--Damage known to exist, such as to piping and valves, had not been repaired or replaced because the cost was considered too high. Warnings from U.S. and Indian experts about other shortcomings at the plant were similarly ignored.

In the fifties The Hooker Chemical Company sold land to the government (for one dollar) with the secret objective of escaping environmental responsibility. Over 100 homes were built at The Love Canal. Cancer and birth defects ravaged the community and it had to be evacuated.

We can and do make double hulled tankers, but they cost more, and a double hulled Valdez would impact executive bonuses. Corporations have their priorities, as shown by the locked doors that incinerated over 200 girls in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. One would think we might have learned from the Savings and Loan fiasco, Enron, or Worldcomm. Yeah, these guys do the right thing.

Just this week we've learned about a Tylenol plant where drugs were manufactured without the ability to inspect the chemicals used, resulting in super potent batches of infant's Tylenol that had to be recalled. Inspectors found filthy conditions including incubators covered with dust and debris and filters designed to clean the air that were saturated with dust. Drums used to transport raw materials to plant were contaminated with a bacteria identified as B. cepacia.

The 17 page inspection report

The gutting of regulation and oversight started by the Reagan administration and taken to levels of collusion if not outright incest during the Bush atrocity has fostered the woeful neglect and grotesque irresponsibility that occurs when the insatiable greed of corporations goes unchecked. Unless stopped, oil companies trash the environment, banks produce financial meltdown, and drug manufacturers poison us. They will take every shortcut, cut every corner, bend every law, and laugh at possible disaster with reckless abandon for as long as they can. What do they care, and why should they? When it comes to The Corporation, we can spend what it takes to regulate, or we can spend what it takes to clean up the catastrophe.

To truly wake us up, perhaps it will take an Armageddon like event, say a complete financial meltdown that throws the country into a deep recession and costs over a TRILLION to fix. If not that, then perhaps an environmental disaster equal to ten Valdez spills that takes out the entire gulf of Mexico for three decades.

Oh, wait.


Anonymous Observer said...

We will forever being paying for the Reagan/Bush holocaust that is taking place. We are reaping the fruit of their corruption and incompetence.

Dozens and dozens of soulless greedy monsters belong in prison.

Obama may be on to something. He used the notion of driving the car into the ditch. It is spot on. Enabled by rubber stamp yes men (including JD Hayworth), Bush and Cheney drove this country into the ditch, although I prefer x4mr's "off a cliff."

I find it beyond comprehensible that people blame Obama for the mess we are in.

It's safe to say, I think, that the "Drill, baby, drill!" mantra just altered.

Corporations are so greedy that they are blind to the long view. I do think banks will ultimately pay for the meltdown they caused, if not literally then in other ways. Similarly, I think oil is going to pay for the gulf disaster, one way or another, and I think we are just at the beginning of the ugly of this one.

5/14/2010 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is going to get worse. BP has been misleading and untruthful all along, and they are resisting efforts by others to fully understand the situation.

This makes no sense, for over time the truth about the catastrophe will emerge, although it may take years. Under Bush/Cheney, watchdogs became bed mates. Oil has had an orgy ever since. BP profits last quarter were $5.6 billion.

5/15/2010 8:13 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

The damage caused by the BP oil debacle will be a greater wake up call for Americans than the Exxon Valdez disaster because of its magnitude and the fact that it occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Exxon Valdez occurred so far from the mainland that people just forgot about it despite the horrible consequences. Even so, the sustained outrage for BP will be confined to a relatively small portion of the population.

The type of person who identifies with the "Tea Party" does not have the intelligence to track any type of man made disaster back to the root causes or to understand how these events relate to one another. So, the "Tea Party" will continue to rail against government control and socialism when, in fact, government is the only thing that can stand between them and those who place an almost zero value on their very lives.

5/15/2010 9:44 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

As the investigation continues, we will learn about the sheer incompetence and oversight lapses (remember, this is the gang where they were having sex with each other literally.) When Big Oil Bush and Cheney entered the White House, the oil industry got a “do whatever you want for free” pass, and clearly we are seeing the results. What other disasters are looming as they operate these rigs with the safety features broken, disabled, or needing repair that is “too expensive” for these corporations (that make $5+ billion in profit every quarter)?

Bush and Cheney threw this country off a cliff. They ignored intelligence that warned about 911 (asleep at the switch). They fabricated intelligence to enter an unnecessary war. They bungled the unnecessary war and used it to funnel hundreds of billions to war profiteers. They dismantled financial regulations and allowed the housing loan debacle to couple with default swaps to produce the greatest financial bloodbath in history. They crippled the FDA and now we have drug manufacturers ignoring quality standards and putting poison or bacteria (or both) into baby medication.

Liza is spot on about the tea trash. X4mr posted video where tea baggers bitch about the FDA, EPA, Department of Education, etc., and thinks it should all be eliminated. Maybe if a bunch of tea baggers see their children bleed to death from the inside after eating contaminated meat produced in filthy meat packing plants some might see the light.

No. They will say Obama secretly poisoned the meat so he could pass stronger safety standards.

Good post, x4mr. How many catastrophes (and how bad) is it going to take?

5/15/2010 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US Army is recalling 44,000 advanced combat helmets because a contractor, ArmorSource, used unapproved and improper materials, poor manufacturing, and insufficient quality practices and procedures.

Let the buyer beware.

5/15/2010 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...

Let me get this straight. Is this blog actually suggesting that the John Galt heroes of this world, people like Enron's Ken Lay, ExxonMobile's Rex Tillerson, Halliburton's Dick Cheney, Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein, AIG's Robert B. Willumstad, Johnson & Johnson's William C. Weldon,
and the other schmucks at BP, ArmorSource, Blackwater, Countrywide, Union Carbide, ADM (and let's not deny Bernie Madoff his stature) might require oversight?

Regulation?!!!! We don't need no FDA, EPA, SEC, DOJ!!

Ronald Reagan declared, "We need to get the government off the backs of the American people!"

So the corporations can jump on.

5/15/2010 7:36 PM  
Blogger merlen hogg said...

Hi X4MR,
Usually I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice article.


4/13/2013 5:39 AM  

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