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Man-made disasters & not so sincere apologies, here are some examples

What sets this list of catastrophes apart, though, is the reaction by the companies responsible for the tragedy.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jun 08, 2016, 07.39 AM IST
Being an environmental polluter means never having to say you’re sorry, as these examples demonstrate.

Not by a long shot is this list of man-made environmental disasters a comprehensive one. Human-kind is ripping the planet apart. Our actions have caused often irreversible calamities like the disappearance of entire seas, rainforests and species which take with them human livelihoods and lives. What sets this list of catastrophes apart, though, is the reaction and handling of events by the companies responsible for the tragedy in the first place.

Minamata Bay In 1956 when evidence of Chisso Corporation dumping mercury in Minamata Bay, Japan, that contaminated the waters and marine life emerged, the company denied wrong-doing and began a propaganda campaign against victims. Journalist and editor, Eric Johnson wrote in The Japan Times in 2006, 50 years after the tragedy; “Chisso organized a massive public disinformation campaign designed to isolate the victims as greedy rabble-rousers ignorant of science and the doctors who supported them as amateurs or anti-capitalist communist dupes.” Chisso hired its own scientists who purposely didn’t take samples from the seabed, the most toxic area. When its propaganda failed, Chisso hired yakuza thugs to do its dirty work which included beating up LIFE magazine photographer Eugene Smith who exposed the world to the Minamata Bay disaster. Eventually, the world and Japan’s Supreme Court took notice. $80 million is what Chisso gave the victims’ families. A debilitating neurological condition caused by severe mercury poisoning is called Minamata disease.

Deepwater horizon (BP) In the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the world’s worst manmade environmental catastrophes which has left the area’s ecosystem in a precarious position, BP executive Tony Hayward said; “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.” Tell that to the baby dolphins that washed up on shore or the families that lost their livelihoods.

Ok Tedi Two billion tons of mining waste dumped in the Ok Tedi river in Papua New Guinea from 1983 to 2013 polluted the river, destroyed forests and affected several communities. Australia’s BHP launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign claiming that disposed tailings were practically identical to natural sediment found in the river. A few years later BHP apologised, eventually settled and in 2013 PNG government took over the mine. Reports say it would take 300 years to clean up the waste.

The Niger delta It’s not just Shell and other oil companies but the world, too, has been indifferent to the plight of the Niger Delta. One of the world’s most biodiversity-rich regions is now its most polluted. More oil is spilled here every year from almost 45-yearold pipelines than spilt in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
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