BP and Bhopal

The whole BP thing reveals a horrible double standard prevalent in the US. While the White House and the Senate Committee are enjoying a spree of moral outrage, seemingly unaware that using appallingly violent language wholly undermines the purity of their claim to the moral high ground, I keep remembering the Bhopal disaster, which puts the Deepwater Horizon event into a rather different perspective.

The Union Carbide gas leak in 1984 is thought to have claimed somewhere between 15,000 to 30,000 lives over the years, with many more thousands seriously maimed. Union Carbide paid out $470m in 1989, a paltry figure given the damage done. What’s more, neither Union Carbide nor Dow Chemicals, who bought the company in 2001, have ever accepted responsibility for the disaster: both are American companies. Remember that when the US establishment bangs on about corporate social responsibility.

The moral account is heavily overdrawn, if not bankrupt. And US bankruptcy is something we’ve all become rather familiar with lately.

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