Double Standard: BP and Bhopal
By Bill Quigley and Alex Tuscano. Bill is the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org Alex directs Praxis, a human rights organization in Banglore India. You can reach Alex at email@example.com
When President Barak Obama went after BP and demanded a $20 billion dollar fund be set up for victims of the Gulf oil spill, the people of India were furious. They saw a US double standard. The US demonstrated it values human life within the US more than the lives of the people of India.
BP should pay $20 billion in compensation, probably even more. The people of India agree with that.
But people are angry because the US is treating the oil spill, called the worst environmental disaster in US history, in a radically different way than the US treated the explosion of a US-owned pesticide plant in Bhopal India, which some call the worst industrial disaster in history.
The 1984 Bhopal explosion released tons of toxic chemicals into the air, claimed the lives of between 15,000 and 20,000 people within two weeks, and disabled hundreds of thousands of others many still suffering from physical damage and genetic defects.
The plant that exploded was operated by Union Carbide India Limited, a corporation owned by Union Carbide of the United States.
The disaster occurred in a thickly populated area close to the central railway station in Bhopal, an urban area of 1.5 million in the heart of India. Most people in the area lived in shanty huts.
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