Beyond BP: Lessons from Valdez and Bhopal

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Beyond BP: Lessons from Valdez and Bhopal

WASHINGTON - LUCI BEACH
Beach is executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee in Alaska. She said this afternoon: "Today I'm in Gulfport, Mississippi, one of the areas that's going to be impacted. These people have no idea what they're in for. People buy the oil companies' propaganda and allow them to do what they want without a plan or real safeguards.

"Many are claiming that BP will cover the costs, but people in Alaska waited for 20 years to be compensated by Exxon for the Valdez spill and even then only got a pittance of what they were due, if they were still alive."

DIANE WILSON
A Texas fisherwoman and environmental campaigner, Wilson is author of the book "An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas."

She said today: "Corporations, whether it's BP in the Gulf or Dow Chemical / Union Carbide in Bhopal, India, don't follow the precautionary principle. They say that their worst-case scenarios won't ever happen and so we shouldn't dare threaten their profits with extra safety costs. Thanks in part to the deregulation from Dick Cheney's energy task force during the Bush administration, the U.S. doesn't require an emergency 'acoustic' shut-off valve that costs $500,000 and could have prevented BP’s disaster. ... Yet most of the other oil-producing nations require the 'acoustic switch' and it has been used in Norway since l993. These corporations don't want to spend a tiny portion of their billions of dollars on something that can prevent a disaster. They get the legal rights of being people and yet take actions that destroy the lives of real people.

"What BP has done is just a giant example of what happens constantly with the chemical and oil companies in the Gulf. They pollute, then they say it didn't get into the water, then they say, well, it was only 20 gallons, then they say it was 200 gallons. Then it's too much to clean up. One big problem is that so much is dependent on industry's self-reporting. You can't get decent information from companies. I find out a great deal because I work with an injured workers group."

Background: On April 2, President Obama stated: "It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."

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