Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ford: Arrive, Make a Mess, Leave

By Bill Pivetz        

After reporters did news reports on paint sludge at sites around the former Ford plant in Mahwah, many citizens were upset at the lack of regulations in place. There was paint sludge and other hazardous materials potentially contaminating the surrounding water supply. Citizens pressed government agencies to begin the clean-up process, but they didn’t have enough resources to complete the job.

As a result of more protests, Ford was forced to step in and clean up what mess they had created. However, they didn’t clean up everything. They cleaned up major areas, but there were contaminated areas just miles away. They did the bare minimum to satisfy themselves that they helped in the clean-up process. This wasn’t nearly enough help.

Yet, this isn’t the first time a company was reluctant to help out the environment they helped destroy. British oil company, BP, is a repeat offender when it comes to barely cleaning up their messes.

In 1999, BP agreed to resolve charges related to the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes on the Alaska North Slope, for $22 million. This was from back in the early 1990s. They had a couple of more spills and explosions until the big leak in April 2010. The offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico. It killed 11 people and was the largest accidental marine spill in petroleum history.

It wasn’t until November when BP and the Department of Justice reached a $4.5 billion settlement. They also pled guilty to 11 felony counts related to the death of 11 workers. BP used their money to pay off their employees and victims in order for them not to say anything negative about BP and its management.

These are just two examples of big companies taking over an area and creating a lot of pollution. After decades of investigation, Ford refused to take any blame for the paint sludge. With enough pressure, they did clean up some of their mess, but not nearly enough.

BP, on the other hand, knew that the oil spill was a huge catastrophe and paid up right away. However, the explosion in Texas was another story. BP cut budgets, which compromised safety and the need for new equipment. BP was fined and paid settlements to all of the victims. There are still violations that haven’t been resolved.

In order for Americans and the rest of the world to trust these big companies, they need to do their part in following regulations and making sure the environment is kept safe. As individuals, we do our part to be green, such as replacing light bulbs and using reusable bags for shopping. But if big corporations can be the leaders in being green, the environment would be better off.

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